SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) from Singapore and Germany can benefit by forming partnerships to expand into Asia, a forum heard yesterday.

Singapore offers an ideal location in the heart of the region, while bosses here can learn from the expertise of German companies in areas such as precision engineering, environmental technology and medical technology.

Mr Philip Yeo, chairman of Spring Singapore, told the German-Singapore Business Forum (GSBF) yesterday: 'Both countries promote innovation and productivity as key drivers for growth, and are leading economies within the Europe and South-east Asia regions respectively.'

Mr Yeo, also the GSBF co-chair, said 'Singaporean SMEs are well placed to be key partners to German Mittelstand looking to expand into the region'.

Mittelstand refers to German small and medium-sized manufacturing companies.

The other GSBF co-chair, Mr Axel Stepken, chairman of the management board of manufacturer T�V S�D, said 1,300 German firms have set up offices or divisions here. He added that Singapore offers 'excellent conditions and tremendous opportunities' for German companies.

Singapore and Germany enjoy close political and economic ties. President Tony Tan Keng Yam's 10-day visit to Germany ended yesterday, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Singapore last year.

Germany is Singapore's largest trading partner in the European Union, while the Republic is Germany's largest Asean trading partner. Bilateral trade was $21.5 billion last year, up from $20.5 billion in 2010.

Fong's Engineering and Manufacturing is one local company that has linked up with a German business. Last year, the precision engineering company started a collaboration with Multi Resource Technologie, which co-develops and manufactures clean technology products. It also manages the sales and marketing of the products in Asia.

'German companies have a lot of technological expertise, while Singapore companies are more aggressive and German companies are more conservative,' said Fong's managing director Jeremy Fong. 'They can transfer their know-how to us so we can learn and also help them to market in the region.'