SG50-website-logoEvery year, on behalf of our members, AmCham raises funds for the charity of the year.  Our current charity of the year is the Yellow Ribbon Fund (YRF), which helps ex-offenders re-integrate into their families and communities upon release from prison, supports their families, and provides training to qualify ex-offenders for good and steady jobs.

 

Our relationship with YRF is strong.  In addition to contributing through the annual Stamford American Thanksgiving Charity Golf Tournament, AmCham members have directly supported YRF by running in the annual charity race, participating in the Dining Behind Bars program, and, most importantly, offering employment to ex-offenders.

 

In honor of SG50, we seek to raise at least S$50,000 to present to YRF at this year’s golf tournament on November 25.  We are over half way to our goal.  We need your support to get us over the line!

  • We challenge you to be one of the first 10 of AmCham’s member organizations to pledge a cash donation of $5,000 (with GST $5,350) or more for SG50 for the 2015 Stamford American AmCham Thanksgiving Charity Golf Tournament.  In return, you will win a seat at a very special luncheon created especially for the occasion by Celebrity Chef Justin Quek of Sky on 57 at Marina Bay Sands.
  • Contribute an item or service or event to the silent auction at the annual Welcome Back party! This annual get-together is always one of our most popular and well-attended.  Your contribution will enliven an already festive evening and enable us to make a truly SG50-plus contribution to YRF.
  • If you wish to make a personal donation of less than $5,000, please let me know.  Every contribution, no matter how large or small, will help!

Please contact me at cxiang@amcham.org.sg  or 6597-5742 with your inquiries and contributions.

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman briefed AmCham members today on the current progress of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He expressed optimism that it will be concluded soon. He encouraged AmCham members to support this groundbreaking agreement. The TPP will help define high standards for the region and it is an open platform, which offers opportunities for growth for decades to come. AmCham Singapore supports the TPP because it will also bring significant benefits to AmCham members.

 

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Every year, the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) meets annually with U.S. Government decision-makers during a “Washington Doorknock” in June.  This annual trip increases the U.S. Government’s awareness of American business activities and concerns in the region.

 

AmCham Singapore’s delegation for the 2015 Doorknock included Penny Burtt of Visa, Angela Mancini of Control Risks, Steve Okun of KKR, Brian Rogove of Cognita, and Executive Director Judith Fergin.  We were joined by representatives of the AmChams in Australia, China, Japan, Mongolia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.  We met with more than 50 Senators, Representatives, and Congressional staffers from both sides of the aisle.  We briefed and were briefed by senior administration officials from USTR and the Departments of State, Commerce, and Defense; leading think tanks and political commentators; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

 

The 2015 Doorknock coincided with Congressional approval of the Trade Promotion Authority Act.  This landmark step cleared the path ahead for conclusion of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.  We highlighted the importance of TPP in every meeting.  Other topics included reform of the U.S. global taxation regime, the on-the-ground impact of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Ex-Im Bank reauthorization, and the APEC Business Travel Card.

 

An important feature was the presentation of the 2015 APCAC Award to Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY) by AmCham Singapore Governor Steve Okun.  Representative Meeks and Chief of Staff Sophia Larfargue (also pictured) participated in the bipartisan House Ways and Means Committee delegation led by Congressman Paul Ryan that AmCham Singapore hosted in February.   Mr. Meeks is a founding co-chair of the Friends of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Caucus in the House. The award honors strong supporters of Asia-Pacific Council of American Chamber of Commerce (APCAC) principles and objectives who have made outstanding contributions over a period of time in furthering U.S. business interests in the Asia Pacific region, and who have promoted free and fair trade worldwide.

 

The concluding highlight was a session that Singapore Ambassador to the United States Ashok Mirpuri hosted for the Singapore delegation.  Themes of the wide-ranging discussion included the TPP and the role that American business will continue to play in Singapore’s economy.

AmCham Singapore joined AmChams across the region in urging Congress to approve Trade Promotion Authority for the President. The full letter is reproduced below. As a reminder, we need to show Congress that we support the TPP, so if you will be engaging with members of Congress, make your support visible.

 

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TO THE MEMBERS OF THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS:

 

On behalf of the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC), we urge Congress to approve the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015,” which will renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). For more than a century, our American Chambers of Commerce (AmChams) have been the most influential voice of US business in the Asia-Pacific region. Together, our 29 AmChams represent the interests of more than 15,000 American and Asia-Pacific companies and account for than $600 billion in annual trade and investment in the region.

 

TPA is an important tool for promoting economic growth and job creation through expanded trade. It is critical to US competitiveness, to US global leadership, and to our members.

 

A case in point is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a comprehensive trade agreement the United States is negotiating with 11 economies throughout the Asia-Pacific region. TPP will bring hundreds of billions of dollars of benefits both to the United States and to our allies in the region and will establish modern and high standard legal frameworks which will benefit American commercial interests and American jobs. TPP will deepen our alliances and partnerships abroad and represents America’s best chance at establishing the rules of trade in this critical region. The agreement will also help promote a global order that reflects both our interests and our values.

 

The global economy is expected to grow by $36 trillion over the next five years, and half of that growth will be in Asia. Yet America currently is losing its competitive edge in Asia. Excluding China, East Asia in 2014 purchased a smaller share of US exports in 2014 than it did five years earlier, despite a 54% increase in total US merchandise exports in that period. This is a troubling trend and we need Congress to swiftly pass TPA and TPP so that America can recapture its market share in this vital region.

 

Historically, free trade agreements (FTAs) provide a boon to the American economy and according to the Peterson Institute, TPP is estimated to increase US exports by $123.5 billion by 2025. In 2014, the 20 FTA partner countries of the United States purchased nearly half (46.7%) of all US goods exports. This is a remarkable performance given that these countries represent just 10% of global GDP outside the United States. On a per capita basis, our FTA partners purchase 12 times as many US goods and services as non-FTA countries.

 

As representatives of US business in Asia, we see the importance of TPA. While foreign governments may initiate negotiations with the United States without TPA in place, they have proven reluctant to make the difficult political choices associated with the final stages of negotiations in its absence. In this sense, TPA will help US negotiators secure agreements of the highest quality and greatest commercial value, including in the case of TPP.

 

To ensure continued US leadership and the continued success of US companies in the Asia-Pacific region, we strongly urge you to support TPA.

 

Sincerely,

 

The Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce

The American Chamber of Commerce in Australia

The American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh

The American Chamber of Commerce in China

The American Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan

The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea

The American Chamber of Commerce in Mongolia

The American Chamber of Commerce in New Zealand

The American Chamber of Commerce in Okinawa

The American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore

The American Chamber of Commerce in Sri Lanka

The American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam

As those of you who were able to join us for the 2015 APCAC Business Summit can attest, the annual spring conference of the Asia-Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) is the premier platform for American business leaders to share knowledge and discuss issues relevant to American business in Asia-Pacific.  We were pleased to welcome so many members, counterparts, and friends from across the region and thank everyone again for making the Summit such a success.

 

While the Summit remains the premier event in Asia, APCAC’s annual Washington Doorknock brings the issues facing American business here directly to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  During the Doorknock, business leaders and executive staff from APCAC member chambers meet with administration officials, think tank fellows, political commentators, Senators, Representatives, and Congressional staff members to discuss policy issues affecting American business in Asia. As the United States government continues to focus on supporting and promoting U.S. business in Asia, it is more and more important that frontline business leaders provide insights about opportunities and obstacles based on personal and corporate experience in the region.

 

Indeed, it’s this “boots on the ground” experience that lawmakers value and the reason that APCAC delegations continue to get high-level meetings year after year.  The issues that participants discuss change as the environment in Asia-Pacific changes, but the need for U.S. lawmakers to hear from us never does.  Last year, AmCham Executive Director Judith Fergin joined the Washington Doorknock on behalf of the Chamber and wrote a synopsis of the event.  In addition to participation by our executive team, AmCham Singapore has historically sent strong delegations from our membership, reinforcing the message that U.S. policies and decisions truly matter to executives in Asia.

 

This year’s Washington Doorknock will take place June 22-25.  If you can possibly make it, I strongly encourage you to do so because the issues that Members of Congress hear are the issues we discuss on the Doorknock.  Why not make sure those issues are your company’s issues?

 

Click the image below to sign up now!

 

APCAC Doorknock Poster 1

 

If you have any questions about the Doorknock or any of our advocacy efforts, please do not hesitate to contact me.

The number of constituents registering opposition to the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) vastly outnumbers the number of people expressing support, according to a delegation of U.S. Congressional staff visiting Singapore this week.  During a breakfast meeting  at AmCham on April 8, the House and Senate staffers said that supporters of TPP need to speak up now — and in great numbers.   The Congressional staff painted a clear picture of the environment on Capitol Hill right now, stating that all they are seeing is buttons like this:

To counter the negative messages that have bombarded their offices for the past three years, Senators and Representatives need to hear from TPP supporters in corporate headquarters and in their districts.  Messages of how the TPP will benefit a firm or a constituent personally will have important credibility.  To counter the sheer weight of opposing numbers, these messages need to come from large numbers of constituents back home.

 

Now is the time for U.S. businesses to mobilize their leadership, employees, suppliers, and contractors to write, email, and telephone their Washington representatives.  Let’s all help swing the numerical balance of constituent opinion in favor of approving this critical trade deal.

 

I’m really looking forward to the APCAC Washington Doorknock the week of June 22.  This will be our chance to take our message about TPP and tax reform to the Hill, the Administration, and leading think tanks all over town.  If the TPP is coming down the negotiating home stretch, this will be the perfect time to show why we care.  The Congressional Staff indicated that they had never seen a pro-TPP button, so I’m looking getting one of these made and wearing it during the Doorknock:

I love tpp button (final) big

If you want to join the Singapore Doorknock delegation, please click on the links below.

 

Washington Doorknock

LKY

 

On behalf of the Board of Governors, membership, and executive office of The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, may I express our deepest condolences upon the death of your father, former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. His contributions to this nation were profound and enduring. His strategic vision, inspired policies, and purposeful leadership created and sustained the environment that has allowed Singaporeans and foreign friends to pursue together the shared goal of a prosperous and economically vibrant country.  We join the government and people of Singapore in mourning the loss of a great nation-builder and global leader.

– James R. Andrade, AmCham Singapore Chairman and VP, Research Development & Quality, Asia Pacific, Mondelēz International

 

Investors would be drawn by Singapore’s predictable, enforceable and fair rule of law. Mr. Lee Kuan Yew’s enduring legacy will continue to inform investors’ decisions.

– Judith Fergin, Executive Director, AmCham Singapore *The quote along with those of other business leaders may be found here.

 

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore joins the people of Singapore in mourning the passing of an historic leader. Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s contributions to modern Singapore were profound and enduring. His strategic vision, inspired policies, and purposeful economic leadership transformed this nation into the prosperous metropolis that we inhabit today. AmCham Singapore’s board and members express our deepest sympathy to his family and the people of Singapore upon this great loss.

AmCham Singapore *The message along with those of other world leaders and organizations may be found here.

 

Singapore is an extraordinary success story of our modern world, much admired beyond its shores because of the vision of Mr Lee Kuan Yew. He dedicated his life to transforming the nation from Third World to First World in just 50 years, making it a world class financial and business hub. Singapore will continue to thrive for many years to come because of the strong foundation that he has laid during his time of service in government.

– Citi

 

Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s life was defined by political turmoil. His worldview was shaped by his participation in, or witness to, the major convulsions of his era – Japanese militarism, the Chinese revolution, anti-colonialism, the Cold War, the challenges of economic development, racial schisms, and religious violence. In his search for stability amidst the chaos and blood of the 20th century, he reached for Confucianism, with its emphasis on order, hierarchy, and cohesion. Lee leaves us with five core lessons from his 60-plus years in public life…On a personal level, Lee earned a well-deserved reputation for intellectual capabilities, lucidity of expression, and personal probity…

Frank Lavin, CEO, Export Now *The full article may be found here.

 

We at ExxonMobil will never forget the important and lasting contributions made by Mr Lee Kuan Yew. His leadership and policies helped us build our business and bonds in Singapore. For us, his legacy can be seen in the strong foundation on which our Singapore business now stands.  We look forward to continuing to honor his achievements by working to grow our business and deepen our ties here.

– ExxonMobil

 

GE was one of the pioneers who invested in manufacturing plants in Jurong industrial estate in 1969. Since then, GE has developed in tandem with Singapore’s aspirations – from low wage assembly operations to a high technology centre providing solutions to our global customers and a regional financial services and commercial hub. All 8 of GE’s businesses have a presence in Singapore. GE is a keen participant in Singapore’s continuous transformation because Singapore brings out the best in us. Singapore’s single-minded push for innovative solutions to your water security challenge made it an easy decision for us to establish a 70+ strong Singapore Water Technology Centre, which was opened in 2009.

– GE

 

Singapore provided our company with a safe platform and environment in which to expand outside of the US market, allowing the ownership of the company to feel secure in their investment outside of their comfort zone.

– Marking Services

 

The Procter & Gamble Company extends our deepest condolences to the nation and the people of Singapore.  We stand together in grieving this loss and honoring his legacy.

 

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew transformed Singapore, making the country a global economic power and a great place for international companies to invest and conduct business.  P&G is honored to call Singapore our home in Asia, and we value our long-term partnership with the government and people of Singapore.

 

As Singapore marks the 50th anniversary of its independence this year, the founding Prime Minister will be remembered as the architect who helped transition Singapore into one of the most dynamic international business hubs in the world.  He will be greatly missed.

– Procter & Gamble

 

In addition, the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) organized a program of tribute to former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and invited the senior Singaporean and international business associations to participate.

LKY tribute

 

AmCham Chairman James Andrade spoke on behalf of the Chamber.

LKY James Andrade

 

In addition, former AmCham Chairman Landis Hicks also spoke at the session.

LKY Landis Hicks

 

AmCham Executive Director Judith Fergin and members of the AmCham Board of Governors at the program of tribute.

LKY AmCham Board

 

 

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We would like to warmly thank everyone who contributed so generously to the 2015 APCAC Business Summit March 11-13.  Our sponsors and partners, speakers and presenters, delegates, and volunteers ensured that a grand time — informative, collegial, and enjoyable — was had by all.  We were proud to welcome representatives from the 27 members of the Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers of Commerce to our conference.  Thank you from the governors, members, and executive staff of AmCham Singapore!

 

Please click here for an more extended recap of the Summit.  In addition, we will load all of the pictures from the Summit in next few days.  Stay tuned!

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The 2015 Global Intellectual Property Center Index ranks Singapore first among Asian economies and fifth among all economies surveyed in this map of the international IP environment.  The index, developed by the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, investigates the IP conditions of 30 economies that comprise nearly 80 percent of global gross domestic product.

 

Offering compelling, data-based evidence of the economic value of rigorous IP regimes, a new annex to the 2015 GIPC Index provides first-of-its-kind data on correlations between strong IP protections and thriving innovative economies.  The annex identifies a positive relationship between:

 

  • Strong IP rights and R&D expenditure: Companies in economies with advanced IP systems are 40% more likely to invest in R&D.
  • Strong IP rights and high-value job growth: Economies with favorable IP regimes employ more than half their workforce in knowledge-intensive sectors.
  • Strong IP rights and FDI: Strong IP protections in the life sciences sector account for 40% of life sciences investment. Additionally, economies with beneficial IP protection see 9-10 times more life sciences investment than countries with weak IP protections.
  • Strong IP rights and innovative activity: Economies with robust IP environments yield 50% more innovative output compared to countries with IP regimes in need of improvement.

 

The report highlights Singapore’s many strengths among the 30 indicators examined, including recent amendments to the Copyright Act that strengthened the overall framework and mechanisms available against online piracy, an advanced national IP framework, patent linkage and an adequate patent enforcement legal framework, an adequate regime for legal software in the government, a legal framework provides for protection of unregistered marks, enforcement of exclusive trademark rights, and the existence of ex officio authority for customs officials.

 

The report enumerates key areas of weakness, including still relatively high rates of software piracy as surveyed by BSA 2014, high rates of per capita P2P sharing, relatively high rates of trademark counterfeiting, and limits on ex officio powers with regards to in-transit seizure.

 

Singapore made the decision decades ago that its economy would grow more rapidly, the quality of the jobs for its citizens would improve more quickly, and the forward momentum of its development would accelerate more reliably if it implemented a world-class system to protect IP.

 

American companies recognize the immense value of Singapore’s IP regime.  We can all see the results in the remarkable expansion of R&D facilities, innovation centers, and manufacturing platforms for ultra-sophisticated products.

 

Singapore’s position in the 2015 GIPC Index as the highest-rated country in Asia is a real tribute to Singapore’s determination.  The authorities recognize that IP creation is never static and they continue to bring important improvements to Singapore’s IP system.  AmCham Singapore looks forward to continuing to collaborate with the government in this vital area.

AmCham Governors and Congressmen

AmCham Governors and Congressmen

 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and members of his congressional delegation have urged AmCham Singapore member companies to deliver the message to their Congressional representatives and American voters that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is important for American jobs and economic growth—and to do it now.

 

TPP negotiations are approaching the endgame. As negotiators focus on wrapping up, the White House and the Hill are buckling down on what they need to do to secure Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and subsequent congressional approval of the TPP.

 

The President put TPA and the TPP squarely on the agenda in his State of the Union Address in January. In response, Chairman Ryan told MSNBC, “I agree with every word he [President Obama] said in the speech with respect to trade and Asia and getting in there and helping write the rules instead of China writing the rules. The president is in the middle of negotiating a trade agreement with Asian nations, representing 40 percent of global GDP. This means more jobs for America. This means more exports for us.”

 

Lead U.S. negotiator Michael Froman testified to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Committee on Finance that “the Administration is committed to securing bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority. America has always been strongest when it speaks with one voice, and that’s exactly what Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, helps us do.” In his statement to the Senate hearing, Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stated, “the time for TPA is now.”

 

AmCham members should seize the moment to explain to their Senators and Representatives why the TPP’s success matters.

 

Chairman Ryan addresses AmCham members

Chairman Ryan addresses AmCham members

 

This was Chairman Ryan’s advice to AmCham members on February 16 during his delegation’s visit to Singapore. In his words, “the stakes are high — because how we act today will set the rules of the global economy for years. Right now, other countries are rewriting those rules without us, and we’re falling behind. For instance, in the first ten years of this century, the countries of East Asia completed 48 trade agreements. The U.S., on the other hand, negotiated just two in that region. Not surprisingly, our exporters’ share of East Asia’s imports fell by 42 percent. On the other hand, if these trade talks are successful, they could bring huge benefits to the U.S. economy. For instance, the two biggest agreements currently in the works — the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership — would give our exporters greater access to 1 billion customers and two-thirds of global GDP. The fact is, if we don’t write the rules of the global economy, other countries will.”

 

Chairman Ryan and his delegation made Singapore the first stop on their three-country journey to advance the U.S. trade agenda. With members from the Ways and Means and Foreign Affairs Committees, Chairman Ryan’s delegation included three co-chairs of the congressional Friends of the TPP Caucus — Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA), and Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA) — as well as Representative Pat Tiberi (R-OH), Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL), and Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE). The delegation also visited Malaysia and Japan.

 

After the visit, Chairman Ryan thanked AmCham for hosting the delegation and reiterated both the importance of the TPP and the U.S.-Singapore bilateral relationship.

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AMCHAM UPDATES

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