NATIONAL

Korea hosts trade fair in Singapore to back SMEs in Southeast Asia

By Kim So-hyun
  • Published : Nov 2, 2018 - 19:22
  • Updated : Nov 5, 2018 - 16:25

SINGAPORE -- About 120 Korean small and medium-sized enterprises showcased their products and services to potential customers and buyers in Southeast Asia during a two-day trade fair that ended here Friday.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy and the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (Kotra) held the Korea Brand & Entertainment Expo for the first time in Singapore, to which 260 prospective buyers -- 160 from Singapore and 100 from neighboring countries -- were invited.

Kotra has organized KBEE, featuring K-pop celebrities, in Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia until last year, and Russia in May.

“Singapore market itself is not big, but has one of the highest income levels in Asia and has great purchasing power. We chose Singapore as the venue for KBEE due to its strategic importance as the center of the (Southeast Asian) region,” said Lee Boreum, deputy director at the Korea Business Center, a branch of Kotra, in Singapore.


Visitors looks around the booths at the Korea Brand & Entertainment Expo in Singapore on Friday. (Kim So-hyun/The Korea Herald)

“Singaporean businesses including e-commerce platforms Qoo10, Shopee, beauty and health store chain Sa Sa and Korean food wholesaler Koryo participated in the expo to meet with Korean firms in the food, beauty, health care, lifestyle, fashion and education industries.”

The ministry helped arrange for the sales of the Korean SMEs’ products through six online retailers here, including Singapore’s top online retailer Qoo10.

According to an official at a firm that makes massage chairs, the company was not able to find buyers with significant purchasing power.

“At a furniture fair in Colgne, Germany, early this year, we saw great interest and signed good-sized deals. But, here, probably because the expo is not focused on a specific trade, the level of interest and purchasing power was lower than expected,” said Yang Byeong-heon, overseas sales director of Jeragene Korea.

A food product company that exports instant tteokbokki to Japan, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore also said the KBEE did not seem to have gotten much publicity.

While officials from some of the participating Korean firms said the turnout was smaller compared to similar trade fairs in Thailand, Vietnam and China, Kotra said the expo in Singapore drew more online vendors for one-on-one business meetings.

Accessory makers, skin care products and devices firms and educational service providers said they had good meetings with potential buyers and partners at the event.

Actress Song Ji-hyo, K-pop group Snuper and Lee Jun-ho of boy band 2PM joined the expo as honorary ambassadors to promote the event.

In addition to business meetings and a K-pop concert, companies from Korea and Singapore held a forum on the education technology industry on the sidelines of the two-day expo.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)