I hope you had a wonderful celebration to welcome the Lunar New Year in February. What felt like a typical month of February and March for our business community was met with a few major developments: President Trump announced new US tariffs on steel and aluminum which will undoubtedly effect the global economic and trade landscape; 11 nations signed the new TPP deal without the US; and the imminent departure of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Given these developments, it is very timely that we’ll be hosting a breakfast fireside chat on 22 March with Ambassador and former US Assistant Secretary of State John Negroponte.

So all in all, things are moving faster than ever and we at AmCham are too. As we look to wrap up Q1 with a bang, below is my Top 10 List to keep you updated on the Chamber’s happenings:


1. International Women’s Day Signature Event: our IWD signature event “Making Change Happen: A C-Suite Perspective” will be held on 26 March from 11:45-2pm at the Conrad Centennial Hotel featuring a dynamic line-up of panelists: Ralph Haupter (Microsoft Asia), Sophie Guerin (Dell), Harvinder Singh (Abbott Laboratories), Lisa Williamson ( Marina Bay Sands), and Simon Kahn (Google). The panel will be moderated by Theresa Goh of the Centre for Creative Leadership. Thank you to our event sponsors Visa, Centre for Creative Leadership, Medtronic, Courtyard Marriott, Novena, and the Singapore American School.


Something New: we’ll also be featuring a “Learning Village” outside the ballroom of the IWD event. Attendees will have an opportunity to learn about change management and leadership via experiential learning. The “Learning Village” is being generously sponsored by the Singapore American School. If you haven’t yet registered, please do so soon as we’ve already sold most of the corporate tables and spaces are limited. To purchase a corporate table ($320 for 10 pax) please contact Nathan at psivarajah@amcham.org.sg.


2. Young Professionals Forum Launched: we’re thrilled to have officially launched the AmCham Young Professionals Forum on 1 March. The launch reception was held at Oakwood Studios. Thank you to Adam Click (Google) for his leadership and engagement in getting this off the ground and to all those that attended this stylish event (I wouldn’t expect anything less from our YPs!). We have more fabulous events lined-up, so please contact Morgan at mhughes@amcham.org.sg if you’d like to be engaged with the Young Professionals Forum.


3. AmCham Policy and “Point of View” Papers: we are ramping up our advocacy portfolio and a major part of this is to articulate AmCham’s policy position and a point of view on priority issues. Drafting these papers is a heavy lift, but we already have 3 drafts approved by the Board: (1) E-Commerce – ASEAN and the Digital Economy, (2) An Overview of Shipping and Supply Chain Trends between the U.S. and Singapore, and (3) Policies Empowering Corporate Compliance Programs. We truly appreciate the efforts of our committee co-chairs and committee members for pushing this rock up the hill.


4. Next Generation of Leaders Program Kick-Off: we rolled out our NextGen program in February with the biggest cohort ever with over 80 participants. Thank you to Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, the Chargé d’affaires, a.i., U.S. Embassy for hosting the NextGenners at her home for an exclusive reception. Thank you to the AmCham Chairman Dwight Hutchins, board of governors and the program speakers for attending to highlight the importance of this program. We are also extremely thankful to the sponsors for the NextGen ProgramCiti and Rutgers Business School Asia Pacific – for their support in shaping the leaders of tomorrow.


5. Welcoming 7 New Committee Co-Chairs to AmCham Leadership Circle: we are thrilled to announce our newly appointed Committee Co-Chairs this month: Aerospace & Defense Committee – Victor Chin (Bell Helicopter); Energy Committee – Darren Murphy (Jones Day); Financial Services Committee – Allison Cheung (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and Dann Sim (Citi); Legal & IPR Committee – Cindy Owens (Baker McKenzie, Wong & Leow) and Josephine Wan-Wen Hadikusumo (Texas Instruments); and Property Committee – Manish Kushyap (CBRE). We are grateful for their commitment and time in sharing their subject matter expertise to drive the Chamber’s thought leadership efforts. If you’d like to be more active in our Committees, please contact Stella at ssoh@amcham.org.sg about being part of AmCham’s Committee Network.


6. Join us for 2018 APCAC Conference in Kuala Lumpur: the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) which consists of 28 AmChams in Asia Pacific region will hold its annual conference on April 4-5 in Kuala Lumpur hosted by AmCham Malaysia. The theme for this year is “Charting a Bold Future: US Businesses in the Asian Century”. This high-profile annual summit attracts over 300 participants including senior government and private sector leaders from the US and the Asia-Pacific region. We hope to see you in KL! Click here for more information and to register.


7. AmCham Board of Governor Nominations and Election: board nominations closed on 9 March. I’m extremely proud that the Chamber has received overwhelming expressions of interest and submissions. It truly reflects the strength of the Chamber. A big thank you to our Nominating Committee Members: James Andrade, Chair (Lijan Co), Courtney Lutterman (UPS), and Laurence Chin (United) for their time and efforts in facilitating this process. If you have AmCham voting rights, please check your inbox for an electronic ballot. The new board members will be announced at our Annual General Meeting on 19 April.


8. AmCham’s Annual General Meeting and AmCham CARES Awards: mark your calendar to attend our 45th Annual General Meeting on 19 April from 11:45-2pm at the Grand Hyatt. As mentioned above, new Board of Governors will be announced and AmCham CARES Award recipients will be recognized for their excellence in corporate social responsibility. If you’d like to sponsor the event, please contact Kelli at klane@amcham.org.sg.  To purchase a corporate table ($320 for 10 pax) please contact Nathan at psivarajah@amcham.org.sg.


9. Manpower Survey: every year, we conduct a survey of our members to gauge the sentiment of American businesses on the key issues that impact talent recruitment and retention. The results of the 2017 Manpower Survey results will be released next month. We’re also looking to conduct a focus group survey in partnership with other international chambers in Singapore. If your company is a polling and research firm interested in working with us on this important initiative, please contact Ashley at amcinerney@amcham.org.sg.


10. AmCham Strategic Plan: rapidly changing environment and drivers that impact our business community compel us to continuously review and re-assess the Chamber’s strategic priorities. As part of this effort, we will conduct a strategic review of AmCham’s strategic plan (2015-2020). I will be working closely with AmCham Chairman Dwight Hutchins (Accenture) as well as the members of the Board of Governors on this effort. If you have comments and thoughts on the current strategic plan, I encourage you to share them with me and look forward to hearing from you!

All the best,

Rapid evolution of the world’s economies has raised questions on the role of business schools and business associations in developing future business leaders. In a recent article, The Straits Times highlights AmCham Singapore’s Next Generation of Business Leadership (NextGen) program as an example in nurturing leaders with the agility and acumen required to succeed in today’s fast-changing economies.


AmCham’s NextGen program is a special series targeted at developing AmCham members’ future leaders. Sponsored by the Rutgers Business School Asia Pacific, it combines conversational opportunities with senior executives from top multinational companies, seminars targeting key areas for successful career development, and networking sessions with other professionals to help sharpen the participants’ business views and expand their professional networks.


“To think critically, especially through foresight and scenario planning, helps participants go beyond their business environment and analyse the impacts of the various drivers of change in a global context,” says Ann Yom Steel, Executive Director of AmCham Singapore.


Read the entire Straits Times article here.




Jeffrey Hardee, Vice Chair on AmCham Singapore’s Board of Governors and Executive Director, Government & Corporate Affairs Asia Pacific and Singapore Country Manager for Caterpillar, was quoted in an article recently published by The Straits Times on the uptick in conversation around the succession of Singapore’s Prime Minister.


Currently, there is a lack of clarity on the Prime Minister’s successor. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has declared that he will step down from his position in four years, but the leadership team has yet to indicate who his successor may be. This has opened the field to successor speculation – a political staple for many countries, but unusual in Singapore – and has already raised questions on the stability of the stock market or investor confidence during the leadership transition.


While this political uncertainty is unprecedented, the business community in Singapore has largely shown confidence in the continuation of policies regardless of the eventual choice in prime minister. Mr. Hardee told The Straits Times that: “The American business community has no reason to doubt that the upcoming succession plan for political leadership will go smoothly. The Government has a system of testing would-be leaders that seems to have worked well and paid dividends.”


To read the article, click here.

Message from AmCham’s Executive Director Ann Yom Steel


Happy New Year and thank you for the warm welcome you’ve given me as the Chamber’s Executive Director. Since joining in September, I’ve truly enjoyed meeting so many of you, learning about your company, and how AmCham can better serve your business needs and interests. I look forward to hearing more of your feedback and ideas throughout 2018.


Thanks to the talented team at AmCham, the AmCham Board Chair Dwight Hutchins (Accenture), the board of governors, and committee co-chairs who have been so generous with their time, I was able to hit the ground running. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the immaculate handover by my predecessor Ambassador Judith Fergin, and the strong support I received from the US Embassy, in particular Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Chargé d’Affaires, Maggie Hanson-Muse and Melissa Brown for their guidance which enabled me to dive right into the role.


I’d like take this opportunity to introduce AmCham’s Top 10 List. I’ll be providing the Top 10 List monthly to keep you abreast of the major happenings at the Chamber. So here we go:


  1. We’re aiming to deliver ~250 events in 2018


    In 2017, we delivered 184 events. This year, we’re slated to deliver ~250 events that are diverse and customized. We’re constantly on the lookout for great speakers and new ideas for events. I encourage you to contact Hasnorimah (hbasari@amcham.org.sg) and Stella (ssoh@amcham.org.sg) to share your ideas. Many of our events are supported by our generous sponsors and annual partners. If you’d like to learn more about becoming a sponsor and its benefits, please contact Kelli (klane@amcham.org.sg).


  3. Welcoming AmCham “Newbies” and recognizing milestone members


    In Q4, we launched our first-ever New Member Welcome Reception and recognized our milestone members at The Coca-Cola Company office. Thank you to Iain McLaughlin, President of the ASEAN Business Unit and AmCham Governor, for hosting us. The feedback was tremendous, and we’ll be delivering the New Member Welcome Reception every quarter. The next reception will be at the Google offices and proudly sponsored by GEMS World Academy. Thank you to Simon Kahn, Ann Lavin, and Adam Click for hosting the reception. If your company would like to host future receptions, please email Ashley (amcinerney@amcham.org.sg).


  5. Our membership is going up!


    During Q4, we saw a resurgence in AmCham membership and closed the year having welcomed 125 new member companies to our growing sphere of influence. Thank you to the “AmCham Ambassadors” who continue to make introductions for us to prospective members. If you’d like us to provide complimentary tickets to someone you know as part of our member referral program, please email our member relations managers Anna (achen@amcham.org.sg) or Jessie (jlevin@amcham.org.sg).


  7. Revitalizing the AmCham Brand


    It’s true we have very loyal members and strong brand equity. But we know that staying agile and constantly aligning our programs and services to the changing needs of our members are critical to staying relevant. So, we’ll also be launching a new website in early Q2 and implementing our digital strategy to better engage with you and attract new members. Thank you to Daniel Heerkens, Razy Shah, Dhawal Shah at 2Stallions for being so generous in advising us and tackling the website re-design and integration. If your company has amazing talent in the marketing and communications space, we can really use the help. Please contact Hazlyn (haidzil@amcham.org.sg) to learn more about working with us.


  9. AmCham Women to be launched in Q1


    One of things I heard consistently during my listening “tour” when I started at AmCham was the desire and passion around developing the pipeline for women leaders. We’re fully aware that this is a crowded space in terms of events. So we’re looking to rollout initiatives that we can measure and that will move the needle towards increased diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We currently have a small group of amazing women leaders who are involved in the planning stage. If you’re keen to be a part of this group and have a real passion for making an impact, please email Hasnorimah (hbasari@amcham.org.sg) to find out how you can get involved.


  11. Hot-desking at AmCham Office in the PayPal Innovation Lounge


    In response to the feedback we heard from our SME members in particular, we’ve officially opened our doors to AmCham members to hot-desk in our lounge. If you haven’t had a chance to visit, please do drop by and check out the space. The hot-desking working space is complimentary. If you’d like to rent our Stamford American auditorium or the Visa boardroom for your events, please email Luqman (lramly@amcham.org.sg). We also have naming rights available for one of the meeting rooms. To find out more about this opportunity, contact Kelli (klane@amcham.org.sg).


  13. Under 40 Young Professionals Forum will launch Q1


    As we studied our member personas and AmCham membership lifecycle, we noticed a gap in our wide range of platforms – namely for the under 40 professionals. We have the NextGen program for millennials, and co-chairs and board of governors are active in our leadership circle. But when you’ve “graduated” as a NextGenner, what’s next? If you (or a colleague in your company) are an under 40 with a minimum of 10 years of work experience and would like to step into a leadership role within the Chamber, please email Morgan (mhughes@amcham.org.sg). By the way, the NextGen 2018 registration will close at the end of January and spaces are limited, so please register and contact Nathan (psivarajah@amcham.org.sg) for any questions.


  15. We’ll be much more “social” then ever – on social media that is


    As we implement our digital strategy, we’ll be much more active on our social media platforms to communicate with you, and will rely less on blast emails. So please do follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter @AmChamSG. If you play a leadership role within the Chamber, do include us in your LinkedIn profile as a board, committee co-chair, committee member, etc. All of our events are posted on our website, so be sure to visit our website regularly and keep a lookout for our weekly The Networker newsletter which goes out every Sunday.


  17. Industry specific monthly networking nights


    To promote strong ties among members new and old, we expanded our monthly networking nights to include industry specific gatherings. Doing so allowed members to engage with peers on industry specific insights, share best practices, and make long lasting business connections appropriate to their specific roles.


  19. Point of View Papers by AmCham Committees to enhance our advocacy efforts


As a member-driven organization, our government affairs team looks to each company and individual to assist us in identifying pertinent policy and business related issues affecting regional growth. Leveraging on the expertise of our committee co-chairs and members is how we’re able to propel AmCham at the forefront of leadership on issues shaping Asia-Pacific. The committee co-chairs have been working tirelessly in developing point of view papers for their respective committees. If you’d like to contribute to the Chamber’s committee papers and in helping to develop industry specific programs, please email Dustin (dwatson@amcham.org.sg) or Stella (ssoh@amcham.org.sg).


If I can leave you with one takeaway from this message, it is the importance of our having an open and ongoing dialogue so that we can serve you better. So do attend our Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, January 18 and share your opinions. I also encourage you to contact me directly via LinkedIn or email (a.steel@amcham.org.sg) with your ideas, suggestions or to fix any pain points. If I have not had a chance to meet with you to learn about your company’s needs, please email Celina (cchong@amcham.org.sg) to schedule a time for us to meet.


We’re off to an incredible 2018! Thank you for your ongoing support and engagement with your American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore.


All the best,


Calls for Reform to Tax System to Apply to Individuals Overseas


In a recent survey of members completed by AmCham Singapore, 25% of business representatives indicate that the U.S. policy on taxing its citizens on their global income impacted their company’s hiring of Americans for positions. With over 4,200 American companies operating throughout the city state, more than 1,000 U.S. companies in Singapore could be hiring foreigners over Americans because of the practice of taxing U.S. citizens on their worldwide income.


The United States is one of only two countries in the world that taxes its citizens on their global income. This system results in an un-level playing field as American citizens compete for jobs abroad, including with U.S. companies, as foreigners who are less expensive to employ given the tax rate in Singapore.


As Singapore is a trade and investment gateway to the region, with AmCham Singapore the home for many U.S. regional headquarters, 75% of the survey respondents confirmed that their company hires for regional roles in Singapore, such as head of Human Resources for Asia or ASEAN. In addition, more than 85% responded that their company has decision-making authority when it comes to the sourcing of goods and services from Singapore. The majority of respondents indicated that it is the company’s CEO, CFO, COO or Managing Director making the decisions related to the tender process and/or the hiring of accounting firms, law firms and public relations firms.


“If Americans were hired for these senior corporate roles, their familiarity, prior experience and business networks means there is often continuity in maintaining business relationships with American firms for services such as accounting, legal and public relations,” said Steve Okun, AmCham Governor.


“While the ‘made in America’ label remains strong in Singapore and throughout the region, the ‘hire America’, or at least ‘hire Americans’, is not so much,” said Dwight Hutchins, Chairman, AmCham Board of Governors.


Survey results indicate that only 10% of U.S. headquartered multi-national corporations (MNCs) with an office in Singapore have a workforce consisting of Americans filling 20% or more of the positions of country manager, regional vice president and above.


As the Trump Administration and U.S. Congress undertake major reforms to the nation’s tax system that includes a territorial tax system for U.S. corporations, so too, should such a principle be applied for citizens. “We urge U.S. policymakers to adopt a system in which U.S. citizens overseas compete on a level playing field with their foreign counterparts, such as through a residence-based taxation for individuals or the raising of the amount of the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion,” said Ann Yom Steel, Executive Director, AmCham Singapore. “Only by including individuals as well as corporations in territorial tax reform will there be a level playing field, which will promote U.S. exports and create more investment and jobs for U.S. companies and American citizens.”

On November 15, 2017, Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Chargé d’Affaires, ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Singapore hosted a reception which celebrated the launch of the 2018 edition of “Crossroads Guide to Doing Business in Singapore & Southeast Asia.” The annual publication, published in cooperation with the U.S. Commercial Service, serves as a guide to help businesses enter and succeed in Singapore and Southeast Asia markets. AmCham Governor Jeff Hardee from Caterpillar gave remarks.

On  November 21, 2017, AmCham members and staff stopped by the SAF Medical Training Institute (SMTI) as part of a program allowing employers to visit. The event, hosted by the Chief Army Medical Officer, COL (DR) Lo Hong Yee, was jointly organised by SMTI and the National Service Directorate (NSD) for employers to better understand and enhance awareness of how the SAF trains its NS medics during their In-Camp Training (ICT). Employers were shown the importance of technology to enhance realistic training scenarios, and also given opportunities for hands-on experiences.

22 November 2017


The Honorable Orrin Hatch


Senate Finance Committee

Washington, D.C. 20510


Dear Chairman Hatch,


On behalf of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC), I write in sincere support of you and your colleagues’ ongoing efforts to modernize the U.S. tax code to meet 21st century demands and realities.  APCAC strongly endorses the proposal, among others, to shift to a system of territorial taxation for corporations.  However, at such a critical juncture, more can and must be done to ensure that tax reform reaches its maximum potential.  Specifically, as the Administration and Congress consider a territorial tax system for U.S. corporations, a territorial tax system for individual taxpayers should also be adopted. This will reduce confusion between the two systems, level the competitive playing field, promote exports and American entrepreneurship, and create more investment and jobs for U.S. companies and citizens.


Representing 29 American Chambers of Commerce across 22 economies around the Asia-Pacific, APCAC sits on the frontlines of commercial diplomacy in the region. As such, our members have firsthand experience and keen insights into the competitive challenges facing American corporations and American citizens living and working in the Asia-Pacific.  Certainly, companies and individuals face unique sets of challenges in the global marketplace. However, the U.S.’s worldwide system of taxation directly impacts the competitiveness of both. Therefore, it is confusing, and at times frustrating, that so much attention is focused on bringing the tax code into the 21st century for American business – primarily via the shift towards a territorial tax regime – but not for hardworking American citizens abroad.  Only the U.S. and Eritrea currently tax their citizens abroad – a reality that deeply disadvantages American workers against their counterparts from literally every country in the world. Noting the Finance Committee’s recognition of these frustrations,[1] this disparate treatment only promises to sow further confusion in an already complex system and undermine the overarching policy goal of spurring American innovation and growth both domestically and abroad.


Part of the challenge for Americans living and working abroad is the un-level playing field they face when competing for jobs with their foreign competitors. Specifically, companies must pay a premium to hire American workers in order to ameliorate the additional tax obligations arising from the U.S.’s worldwide system of taxation. The result is an un-level playing field as American citizens compete for jobs, including at U.S. companies, with foreigners who are less expensive to employ. And not surprisingly, the impact has been and continues to be a reduction in the number of American citizens in key management positions – a fact evidenced by many AmChams in the region not even having enough Americans to fill their board.  Not only does this diminish American leadership and influence in the Asia-Pacific, it also impacts the natural procurement ties to U.S. goods, which is a key consideration in addressing ongoing trade deficits with many countries in the region.


APCAC believes that the most prudent path forward is through harmonizing the tax treatment between corporations and individuals vis-à-vis a shift to territoriality. As discussions continue, APCAC and all of its members look forward to staying engaged with you and your colleagues on these important issues impacting American citizens living and working overseas.


Finally, do not put this important issue off to a future tax effort. APCAC has been advocating for territorial treatment of American citizens abroad for nearly fifty years and we must not miss this current opportunity to solve this important issue.


Please be assured of our best wishes and warmest personal regards.


[1] The Finance Committee’s International Working Group report highlighted that over 7.6 million American citizens are currently living abroad and that nearly three-quarters of the 367 submissions made to the international work group focused on the tax treatment of these individuals – specifically citizenship-based taxation, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), and the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). The report went on to provide an overview of these topics, but does not offer a comprehensive plan or specific proposals for overhauling the taxation of individual Americans living and working abroad, although it stated the Committee would “carefully consider the concerns articulated in the submissions moving forward.”





Read the letter here.

AmCham Singapore continues to lobby for better taxation policy for both American workers and American companies, and is working closely with APCAC leaders to advocate for a territorial tax system. Speaking on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives recently, Representative George Holding (R-NC) voiced his support for residence-based taxation: “I […] support this historic bill that will put our economy back on the path to stable and sustained growth. This bill finally levels the playing field and restores the global competitiveness of American businesses by moving to a territorial system.”


Championing the cause, Ways & Means Committee Chair Representative Kevin Brady (R-TX) reiterated support, saying that “Residence-based taxation is an idea we should continue to explore. We’ll continue to work on this issue […].”


Click here to view the video.


SME’s we want to hear from you!


Please help us understand how we can better serve the SME community within AmCham Singapore.


The results of the survey will help us decide on future programming, engagement, and advocacy issues.


Click here to take this short survey. It only takes 2-3 minutes!




This blog features event recaps, updates on the latest happenings at AmCham, and commentaries from the AmCham staff