RISING office rentals is the biggest concern among Norwegian-owned businesses operating in Singapore.
While 88 per cent of these firms expect to expand in the next 12 months, many are increasingly concerned about spiralling business and manpower costs.
The findings came from a recent survey conducted by the Norwegian Business Association in Singapore over the past six weeks.
The respondents were from 60 Norwegian companies, with more than half having an annual turnover of over $50 million.
A total of 24.4 per cent of the respondents said office rentals were their main concern, while 22.6 per cent cited rising wage bills.
A further 20.2 per cent said they were worried about the recent steep rises in living costs.
The survey findings - which were presented at the Norway Asia Business Conference held in Singapore yesterday - echoed those of a poll released by the American Chamber of Commerce in June.
This showed that rising rents and housing costs are becoming more of a worry for senior executives at American firms in the Republic.
Economic Development Board (EDB) managing director Ko Kheng Hwa addressed the rents issue at the conference, saying the EDB and the Government are ‘very concerned’ about business competitiveness and are working to increase the supply of commercial and residential space.
Mr Ko, the conference’s keynote speaker, added: ‘When supply and demand are better matched in the next couple of years, the cost escalation should be moderated.’
Norway is the sixth-largest foreign investor in Singapore, with a total foreign direct investment of $7.9 billion in 2005 - the latest year for which figures are available.
It is the fourth-largest European investor in Singapore behind Britain, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
There are more than 150 Norwegian business entities in the Republic.
Source : Straits Times - 26 Oct 2007