International Enterprise (IE) Singapore is making it faster and easier for SMEs to access a new grant aimed at helping them penetrate foreign markets.

Companies that apply for funding to assess and analyse foreign markets will now need only three days to know whether their application is approved.

The Market Readiness Assistance Grant is one initiative that the trade agency has adopted to help Singapore companies focus more on internationalisation.

Goodpack Limited, a local firm established some 20 years ago has seen its turnover grow to US$178 million last year. In 2012, Singapore contributed to 20 per cent of the container-leasing firm’s overall turnover. Goodpack, headquartered in Singapore, has benefitted from IE Singapore’s Global Company Partnership scheme, which provides assistance to companies looking to expand internationally.

Goodpack received S$500,000 worth of government grants from the trade agency over the years and is currently the world’s largest operator of environmentally friendly steel intermediate bulk containers. None of its 2.8 million intermediate bulk containers are kept in its headquarters in Singapore, as its customers have never been based in Singapore until recently, in Jurong Island.

Goodpack has 18 offices worldwide and said that the government can do more to support firms in their foreign expansion drive. Goodpack is one of the 15,500 companies IE Singapore has helped in 2012 — of which 85 per cent were SMEs.

Michael Liew, CEO of Goodpack said, “Singapore companies are always encouraged to go overseas. So maybe better tax incentives for foreign-sourced income. Maybe we are able to deduct some of the overseas investments against the Singapore trade income in the future.”

IE Singapore is expanding the Global Company Partnership scheme to include meeting the manpower needs of local firms when they venture overseas.

Its CEO Michael Liew said: “Singapore companies are always encouraged to go overseas. So maybe better tax incentives for foreign-sourced income. Maybe we are able to deduct some of the overseas investments against the Singapore trade income in the future.

IE Singapore is expanding the Global Company Partnership scheme to include meeting the manpower needs of local firms when they venture overseas. They are looking to help more Singapore companies this year.

Through the Market Readiness Assistance Grant, a company can apply for grants of up to S$20,000 of funding a year for legal and tax advisory as well as other related consultancy services for overseas expansion. Companies with global headquarters in Singapore and an annual turnover of less than S$100 million can apply for the scheme.

Teo Eng Cheong, CEO of IE Singapore said, “This year, we expected the numbers to improve slightly because in the next three years, many companies in Singapore will go through some restructuring. Some of them may be looking to relocate overseas. We will want to come in to support them when they restructure and relocate overseas.”

These schemes are a part of the latest budget measures to help SMEs restructure and achieve quality growth.

IE Singapore’s website will open for applications from 1 April onwards.