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MARKET INSIGHTS: GUIDE TO EU MARKETS

Industry 4.0 a national priority

European manufacturers are staying globally competitive by adopting "future of manufacturing" solutions such as the Internet of Things, blockchain technology, and robotics

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An assembly line at the Volkswagen construction plant in Bratislava, Slovakia. Slovakia is the world's largest car manufacturer per capita.

European Union member states have a wide variety of strengths, with plenty of opportunities for Singapore firms that are looking to invest, find partners, or enter new markets. Here is an overview of promising sectors, and key markets for each one.

THE EU is a leading manufacturing hub, with most member states having made Industry 4.0 a national priority. European manufacturers are staying globally competitive by adopting "future of manufacturing" solutions, such as the Internet of Things (IOT), blockchain technology, and robotics.

Opportunities for Singapore companies

Singapore, too, is transforming its manufacturing sector with Industry 4.0 technologies. A robust infrastructure of testing, inspection and certification services ensures that quality benchmarks are met and standards upheld, particularly for manufacturing. Last year, for instance, the Singapore Standards Council published a new Technical Reference for the use of additive manufacturing in military and non-military applications here.

There is potential for Singapore companies with Industry 4.0 solutions to partner EU manufacturers in coming up with products and solutions, or expanding into Asia.

GERMANY

A global manufacturing powerhouse, Germany has a strong emphasis on "Industrie 4.0" thought leadership and research & development.

It offers a conducive environment in which Singapore companies can find partners, with a large base of corporates and "Mittelstand" or medium-sized firms.

Singapore businesses can leverage the reliability of this sector, providing outsourcing services to German manufacturers in areas such as aerospace, food, furniture, medical technology, and offshore wind energy.

Facts and figures

  • Since the mid-1990s, manufacturing has accounted for just over a fifth of Germany's gross domestic product.
  • The sector accounts for some 7.7 million jobs in Germany.
  • German firms account for over a quarter of the EU's manufacturing turnover, and over a tenth of the EU's global exports of manufacturing products.
  • Every year, Singapore firms attend Hannover Messe in Germany, one of the world's largest industrial shows, to showcase their products and make connections. Since 2018, Singapore has hosted Industrial Transformation Asia-Pacific, the Asian edition of Hannover Messe.

CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY, POLAND, AND SLOVAKIA

Known collectively as the Visegrad 4, these countries are key manufacturing and R&D centres for international automotive, aerospace and white goods companies, as well as first-tier component suppliers in Central and Eastern Europe.

Besides being part of the global manufacturing supply chain, the Visegrad 4 also have their own domestic products. In particular, the Czech Republic and Poland have a long history and are major global players in the manufacturing of lightweight aircraft.

The Visegrad 4 countries enjoy a high level of labour productivity, thanks to education systems that combine theoretical and practical training, and relatively lower labour costs, making them attractive as a destination for manufacturing operations.

Facts and figures

  • More than 100 Polish companies have a presence in Singapore, while many Singapore companies operate in Poland in sectors such as precision engineering, shipbuilding and food manufacturing.
  • In Cushman & Wakefield's 2020 Global Manufacturing Risk Index, which ranks the most suitable locations for global manufacturing, the Czech Republic was ranked top in Europe and fourth globally.
  • The automotive sector is a heavyweight in Hungary, accounting for nearly 30 per cent of the country's manufacturing.
  • Slovakia is the world's largest car manufacturer per capita.

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