Learning about U.S. business in Southeast Asia with AmCham Singapore

7 Aug 2018

This summer marked the end of my first year of the Master in Public Policy (MPP) degree. Due to my interests in the intersection between public and private sectors, particularly economic policy issues such as trade and investment, I applied for and received an offer to intern at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore) from mid-May to late-July. In specific, I worked under the Government Affairs Department to prepare for our annual publication called the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey (ABOS)- a joint project between AmCham Singapore, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other AmCham offices in the ASEAN countries to gather insights about American business sentiments towards the region’s political and economic landscape.

As a leading non-profit organization representing U.S. business interests in Singapore and Southeast Asia since 1973, AmCham creates values for its 5000 members and 750 companies by providing policy advocacy, business information, and extensive connections. Each year, the Government Affairs Department produces a variety of publications, including policy briefs, memos, surveys, and reports on the U.S.-ASEAN trade/investment relations. Some of the most prominent examples are the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey (ABOS)- also my main project during this internship, Crossroads: Doing business in Southeast Asia, and more recently the Manpower Survey 2018 in collaboration with Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower. Furthermore, the team helps facilitate the interactions with visiting Congressional leaders, committee meetings with U.S. Embassy and other governmental organizations in Singapore, along with members of the Singapore’s government. Briefly speaking, AmCham in general and its Government Affairs Department in particular play a vital role in strengthening the business bonds between the U.S. and Singapore, as well as contributing to the ASEAN region’s economic development.

During my two and a half months with AmCham, I performed a wide range of tasks related to the ABOS production and marketing/networking activities with some other teams. Coming from a quantitative-oriented background, I ventured out of my comfort zone by working on color sets for the graphs and layouts in accordance with this year’s theme, which focused on Singapore’s 2018 ASEAN Chairmanship, writing drafts for the analyses, as well as aligning the surveyed data with our report framework. In addition, I assisted with the Member Committees and Business Development teams to brainstorm ideas for future programs, as well as organize various events, namely the Balestier Series- one of the signature events of AmCham to celebrate the commercial ties between the U.S. and Singapore- with high-profile guest speakers from the Singapore government, the ICT (Information & Communication Technology) Networking Night co-hosted by AmCham and British Chamber of Commerce, the Briefing on ASEAN Smart Cities Network by the MFA and Center for Livable Cities, and a discussion with U.S. House Committee, along with some Congressmen, on the U.S.-China trade dynamics. Furthermore, all the interns were given a tour to multiple member companies, for example Google, HP Inc., and UTC. These experiences therefore not only enhanced my professional skills such as research, analytical thinking, and communications, but they allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of American business opportunities and challenges in Singapore or even the region.

Learning about U.S. business in Southeast Asia with AmCham Singapore

With peer interns at the ICT Networking Night jointly organized with French Chamber of Commerce and British Chamber of Commerce in Singapore

Overall, I definitely had a great time interning at AmCham Singapore, where I had opportunities to fortify my interests in the interplay between public and private sectors. More importantly, I was able to develop long-lasting friendships with my peer interns- most of whom were from the U.S. and shared an immense passion for Asia, my helpful colleagues who I planned to visit regularly here, and the people I interacted with at the networking receptions from diverse backgrounds.

Learning about U.S. business in Southeast Asia with AmCham Singapore 2

May 2018 Balestier Talk by Ravi Menon- Managing Director of Monetary Authority of Singapore

Learning about U.S. business in Southeast Asia with AmCham Singapore 3

Intern tour to Expedia- a member company of AmCham Singapore

Last but not least, I’d like to express my gratitude to the LKYSPP Career Services for having connected me to AmCham Singapore at an Industry Night, and granted me the necessary support via the LKYSPP Internship Program so that I could make it such a worthwhile experience.

Nguyen Phan Dai Trang

Master in Public Policy Candidate (2019)