Digital trade reshaping opportunities for Singaporean businesses in the global economy

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Stripe has published a report exploring how digital trade is reshaping the global economy. It finds that consumers and businesses are optimistic about the globalized economy, with businesses looking to expand into new international markets, and consumers increasingly willing to purchase cross-border goods and services online.

The report draws on aggregated transaction data from the Stripe platform as well as surveys with 1,700 business leaders and 11,500 consumers across nine global markets: Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, the UK, and the US. It demonstrates how technology is diversifying international trade routes and creating greater access to the global economy for businesses of all sizes in Singapore.

Key findings from the report include:

Businesses and consumers are optimistic about the globalized economy

Despite macroeconomic challenges, both businesses and consumers are optimistic about buying and selling more outside of Singapore. Eighty-four percent of businesses are planning to expand into other countries within the next two years, while thirty percent expect more than 75% growth internationally over the next five years.

While the road to international success is nuanced, and the hyper-localized market expansion strategies needed to achieve this growth will not be easy to create or implement, businesses in Singapore feel there are fewer restrictions on how they operate today compared to the past.

Fifty-nine percent think it is easier to run an international business today than it was five years ago. Only 25% find it harder to do so. This optimism and openness about the global economy also extends to consumers. Eighty-four percent of Singaporeans are now open to buying physical goods cross-border, while 74% are open to buying digital services.

Digital trade is creating greater access to the global economy

Digital exports are leveling the playing field and allowing businesses of all sizes—from “single-person multinationals” to large and predominantly offline traditional enterprises—to access global markets.

Globally, eighty-one percent of sole proprietor businesses now sell internationally, heralding the rise of single-person multinationals. Eighteen percent of these sell to more than 11 global markets. At the other end of the business spectrum, large traditional enterprises—often with thousands of employees—are also leaning into cross-border expansion. From 2021 to 2022, there was a 61% growth in Singaporean enterprises selling internationally via digital channels on Stripe.

Globally, fifty percent of enterprises plan to expand further internationally in the next two years. Traditional, offline industries—such as education—are also transforming in a digitized global economy. Eighty-eight percent of education businesses around the world sell internationally today, and 70% plan to expand further internationally in the next two years.

Digital trade is creating more diversified international trade routes

Economic infrastructure for the internet means that businesses can participate in global trade, regardless of where they’re located. However, most businesses have barely begun to tap this potential.

While many of the fastest-growing digital export routes are between neighboring countries, there are striking exceptions. Ireland is the fastest-growing digital export destination for both Australia and the UK. Germany is the fastest-growing digital export destination for both the US and France. The fastest growing digital export market for Singaporean businesses is Japan, with 60 percent year-on-year growth from 2021 to 2022.

The overall geographic scale of digital export routes is also broadening for all countries analyzed in the report. Based on Stripe transaction data from 2022, the top five digital export markets for Australia, Mexico, Singapore, the US, and the UK stretch to three continents. For Singaporean businesses, the top 5 digital export markets in 2023 are the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Japan.

“Digital trade is creating opportunities for businesses to expand their total addressable markets, but success never comes easily,” said Mike Clayville, chief customer officer at Stripe. “Businesses need simple financial infrastructure that just works, no matter where they sell to. Our findings show businesses are increasingly taking advantage of this potential—and that’s something to celebrate.”