18 December 2017

HSBC opened its doors in Singapore 140 years ago. The case for doing so for the (then) 12-year-old Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank was clear.

The port of Singapore was the largest trading hub along the Calcutta to Hong Kong spice route, and so our first branch on the island was launched to finance growing trade across the corridor.

In the decades that followed, we supported the nation’s economy as it evolved from exporting rubber and tin to developing a manufacturing base. As Singapore rebuilt after World War II, HSBC was handling 35 per cent of the nation’s foreign and trade exchange business.

Our business grew together with the country. We built our first offices in Singapore at Collyer Quay in 1885. We still occupy the same site, but have rebuilt on two further occasions to meet our expanding needs.

Today, Singapore’s stable tax, legal and regulatory system, strong infrastructure and business-friendly conditions have transformed it into one of the leading financial centres not just in Asia, but in the world.

We are committed to helping Singapore continue to grow and thrive

More than 37,000 international companies call Singapore their regional head office. It is the largest foreign exchange centre in Asia-Pacific, manages two-thirds of all project financing in ASEAN, and is the financial conduit between China and Southeast Asia, including being the third largest offshore clearing centre for the Chinese renminbi.

As was the case during the spice trade era, Singapore’s future prosperity depends on the international channels that it builds and the international partnerships that it nurtures.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) aims to make the nation a financing hub for infrastructure, with an estimated USD2.1 trillion of infrastructure investment needed in the six biggest ASEAN economies alone between now and 2030. It is also looking to build the sophistication of its capital markets in areas like corporate debt and sustainable financing.

HSBC is committed to playing its part in support of this vision. With around 3,000 staff in the country, we offer a wide range of banking services, catering to major multinationals and smaller businesses as well as individual retail customers. We transferred our retail banking and wealth management business to a new and locally-owned subsidiary in 2016, reflecting our commitment to the country.

We are also investing in our own capabilities to continue to support Singapore’s long-term success.

Our priorities for the future include: supporting the 1,200 mid-sized enterprises based in Singapore; further developing the sustainable and green finance markets; arranging finance for infrastructure projects across Southeast Asia from Singapore; building our scale to support the wealth needs of ASEAN’s growing affluent from Singapore; building on our extensive activity in digital capability, particularly in trade finance and intra-ASEAN payments, and helping to relay the ASEAN story to European and North American investors and corporates.

In many respects we are already making good progress. In 2017, we were lead arranger for two of the first three Green Bonds ever issued in Singapore, for example. We have also signed up to invest and participate in a new project to digitise trade and trade finance between Singapore and Hong Kong.

Just as we have supported Singapore over the past 140 years, we are committed to helping the country continue to grow and thrive in the future.