Singapore’s international trading company, Intraco Ltd., was incorporated on 5 November 1968. It originated from existing operations within the Economic Development Board, which was formed in 1961 to look into attracting foreign investors to Singapore.
The company had an authorised capital of S$50 million, and was jointly owned by the Singapore government and other private entities. Sim Kee Boon, then permanent secretary in the Ministry of Finance (Economic Development Board), was seconded to the company and appointed chairman and managing director. Sim’s deputy, Ngiam Tong Dow, was also seconded to Intraco, and was appointed executive director. S. Chandra Das, then acting head of the Export Promotion Centre, was appointed secretary.
The establishment of Intraco stemmed from the government’s plan to boost Singapore’s industrialisation programme through implementing institutional changes, and one of the changes was to set up an entity to look into identifying and trading with overseas markets for local products. Upon the announcement of the incorporation of Intraco, plans were underway to set up a network of overseas offices to market Singapore-made goods. By September 1969, it was announced that Intraco would be establishing its first office in Saigon, Vietnam, with offices in Sydney, Australia; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Moscow, Soviet Union, to follow. In the pipeline were six offices in Cambodia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Western Europe, North America and Japan.
A product specialist department, comprising 10 product divisions, was set up within the company to gather overseas market intelligence to help local industries. The divisions were: Textiles and accessories; rubber; plastics and leather products; food; wood products; furniture, timber and logging activities; building materials; electrical products; chemicals; engineering products such as ship-building and its accessories; primary commodities for trading purposes; and consumer products.
Within the first year of operation, Intraco made a profit of S$426,000, and was awarded a S$10-million contract through its Saigon office in 1970 to supply soya bean oil to the Vietnamese army. By 1971, it was reported that Intraco enjoyed a record turnover of more than S$50 million. In December 1972, Intraco was listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange, during which the public was offered two million S$1 shares at a premium of 40 cents. The shares were more than 70 times over-subscribed and at one point during the first hour of trading, the S$1 share rose to as high as S$8.50.
1. Yeo, T. J. (1968, November 10). S’pore sets up $50m body to push trade. The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Faizal Bin Yahya. (2014). Intraco: Blazing a trail overseas for Singapore? (p. 36). Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte Ltd. Call no.: RSING 338.95957 YAH.
3. Singapore Economic Development Board. (2014, September 29). Our history. Retrieved February 24, 2015, from Future Ready Singapore website: https://www.edb.gov.sg/content/edb/en/about-edb/company-information/our-history.html
4. The Straits Times, 10 Nov 1968, p. 1.
5. The Straits Times, 10 Nov 1968, p. 1.
6. Yeo, T. J. (1968, November 10). Offices in the key world centres to boost sale of republic’s goods. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. The Straits Times, 10 Nov 1968, p. 3; The Straits Times, 10 Nov 1968, p. 1.
8. The Straits Times, 10 Nov 1968, p. 3.
9. Big export drive as Intraco officers go abroad. (1969, September 24). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. The Straits Times, 24 Sep 1969, p. 6.
11. Intraco makes $426,000 profit in first year. (1970, March 28). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12. Intraco gets a $10 mil contract. (1970, May 22). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Intraco turnover likely to pass $50 mil. (1971, August 27). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
14. Intraco shares hit record premium. (1972, December 19). The Straits Times, p. 38. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
15. The Straits Times, 19 Dec 1972, p. 38.
The information in this article is valid as at March 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.