• Access and hire global talent & deploy them anywhere in the world
  • Remove restriction from only hiring from local markets
  • Enter any international market without the requirement of opening a local entity

Expanding into Singapore – which is characterised by a highly-educated and skilled workforce, complex employment and tax laws, a strong infrastructure network linking to the rest of Asia and beyond, and leading sectors in professional services, energy, biotechnology, tourism and medical tourism, and ICT– can bring excitement to the possibilities, but also significant stress to ensuring the entity with the country’s rigorous legal structures and laws.

Global expansion is a step to make for any business, regardless of what you wish to achieve. The opportunities that can come with an expansion can be both incredibly exciting as well as intimidating and confusing, especially when you consider all the registration procedures that need to be done and the documentation required.

Each new markets bring new challenges, and these can be worked through more efficiently and cost-effectively with the support of a Professional Employer Organisation (PEO) such as Bradford Jacobs, especially through our Employer of Record (EOR) framework. This can be best utilised when businesses are just beginning their expansion process and require more information before committing to incorporating an entity and fully establishing themselves in that market.

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Singapore – The Economy

The economy of Singapore is a highly developed free-market economy. The World Economic Forum has ranked Singapore’s economy as one of the most open in the world (Global Enabling Trading Report, 2012), the 3rd-least corrupt (Corruptions Perception Index, 2018) and the 2nd most pro-business country in the world by the World Bank (Ease of Doing Business, 2021).

Singapore has low tax rates and the second-highest per-capita GDP in the world regarding purchasing power parity (PPP). Alongside the business-friendly reputation, state-owned enterprises play a substantial role in Singapore’s economy. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is headquartered in Singapore.

The Singaporean economy is a significant foreign direct investment (FDI) outflow financier globally. Singapore has also benefited from the inward flow of FDI from global investors and institutions due to its highly attractive investment climate and stable political environment in recent years.

The country’s main exports include electronics, chemicals, and services. Singapore is the regional hub for wealth management. Water is scarce in Singapore, and a sizeable percentage of water is imported from Malaysia; therefore, it is defined as a precious resource.

Singapore also relies on an extended concept of intermediary trade to entrepôt trade by purchasing raw goods and refining them for re-export, such as in the wafer-fabrication industry and oil refining.

One of the five founding members of ASEAN, Singapore is also the headquarters of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Secretariat, the Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC) Secretariat, and is the host city of many international conferences and events. Singapore is also a member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, East Asia Summit, Non-Aligned Movement, and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Singapore City
No. of States/Provinces
5 administrative regions: Central, East, North, North-East and West.
Principal Cities
Singapore, Woodlands, Marine Parade
Malay, Tamil, English and Mandarin Chinese
Local Currency
Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Major Religion(s)
Buddhism (31%), no religion (20%) Christianity (19%), Islam (15.6%), Taoism (8.8%) and Hinduism (5%)
Date Format
Time Zone
Singapore Standard Time (GMT+8)
Country Dial Code
5.93 million
Border Countries
Tax Year
Calendar Year (1 January -31 December)
Minimum Wage
Singapore does not have a minimum wage
Taxpayer Identification Numbers
Tax Reference Number (Personal) / Unique Entity Number (Business) / National Identification Number (Social Security) / VAT Number
Leading Sectors
Manufacturing 21.5%, wholesale trade 16.8%, Finance and insurance 15.7%, Other service industries 10.8%
Main imports
Machinery, transport equipment and crude petroleum
Main exports
Electrical machinery and equipment; computers; mineral fuels; optical, technical and medical apparatus; gems and precious metals
Main trading partners
China, USA, Malaysia, Indonesia and Japan
Government Type
Unitary dominant-party parliamentary republic
Current President
Halimah Yacob

The Main Sectors of the Singaporean Economy

  1. Electronics Manufacturing –  Singapore’s manufacturing sector has emerged as a regional economic powerhouse, contributing at least 20% to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). A significant component of this sector – electronics semiconductors – has attracted substantial foreign investments, value-added output, and employment, contributing more than 25% of the manufacturing work. It is the location of choice for multinational corporations (MNCs) to enter new markets and launch products, processes, applications, and technology.
  2. Energy (Oil and Gas) – Singapore has become one of Asia’s most important shipping centres and is one of the world’s top five oil trading and refining hubs. In addition, Singapore is one of the market leaders for floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSOs) conversions and offshore jack-up rigs. Underground caverns for oil storage and a liquid natural gas (LNG) terminal are also being expanded in phases to enhance Singapore’s position as the premier regional centre for the oil and gas industry.
  3. Agriculture – Given the country’s limited agricultural land, the country’s rural body, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority, has taken the lead in shifting the sector towards agro-technology. With a total landmass of 1,465 hectares (3,620 acres), its six agro-technology parks, comprising 200+ farms, produce a diverse range of products, including livestock, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, orchids, and aquarium and food fish. The agro-technology parks comprise modern farms that develop and use advanced technologies for intensive farming systems and export products and services to regional countries.
  4. Information and Communication Technology – In 2021, the gross domestic product (GDP) of Singapore’s information and communication industry amounted to approximately 28.4 billion Singapore dollars and employed more than 17,000 people. Singapore is home to many global technology firms, including Google, Facebook, Alibaba, and regional leaders like Garena, Grab, Lazada and Razer. Technology players like IBM and Huawei have partnered with financial services, manufacturing, and services industries in Singapore to develop and deliver new solutions for the region and beyond.
  5. Professional Services – Professional services is an essential sub-sector of the services sector, contributing to approx. 71% of the country’s overall GDP, of which professional services contribute 5.8%. Singapore is a regional hub of choice for professional services firms, offering a cosmopolitan workforce and a trusted regulatory framework.
  6. Pharmaceuticals & Biotechnology – In 2021, the pharmaceuticals and biotechnology industry contributed 10.5 billion Singapore dollars to the GDP and currently employs more than 9,000 people. As a leading biomedical sciences hub in Asia’s heart, Singapore is the choice location for companies to develop and produce new products that better meet Asia’s healthcare needs. Companies like GlaxoSmithKline, MSD and Roche have based various commercial activities in Singapore, including Supply Chain Management, Regulatory Affairs and Medical Affairs.
  7. Tourism and Medical Tourism – In 2019, an estimated 19 million tourists visited the nation, with receipts at SGD 27.1 billion, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. Aside from traditional tourism, Singapore has also established itself as a medical tourism centre. Every year, approximately 200,000 people visit the country to receive healthcare.

Small and Medium-Sized Companies

In Singapore, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are defined as companies with a turnover of less than SGD 100 million or employ 200 or fewer employees.

SMEs in Singapore make up 99% of all enterprises and support 72% of total employment. 80% of SMEs are locally owned, whilst 20% are foreign-owned. SMEs also contribute nearly half of Singapore’s GDP (SingStar, 2021).

In 2021, almost 75% of the GDP nominal value added by Singaporean SMEs was by the service industries and the goods-producing industries generated 25%.

The top 3 services industries for SMEs are wholesale trade (9%), finance and insurance (6%) and other service industries (8%), whilst the top 3 goods-producing industries for SMEs are manufacturing (3%), construction (9%), and utilities (2%).

Tax and Labour Authorities

  • The Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore – is the main tax administrator of the Government. IRAS collects taxes that account for about 70% of the Government’s operating revenue, supporting the Government’s economic and social programs to achieve quality growth and inclusive society. IRAS also represents the Government in tax treaty negotiations, drafts tax legislation, and provides advice on property valuation to the Government. As part of its public engagement, IRAS works closely with tax agents as partners in administering the Singapore tax system and facilitating tax compliance.
  • The Ministry of Manpower – is responsible for labour and employment issues. The labour inspection system is placed under the authority of the Commissioner of Labour and Workplace Safety and Health, who the Minister for Manpower appoints.

Labour Contracts Law

  • Employees covered by the Employment Act (EA) must be given a written record of Key Employment Terms (KETs) as set out in the Employment Regulations – Employment Records, Key Employment Terms and Pay Slips Regulations, 2016
  • KETs should include a description of the role, primary duties, and responsibilities; start date; working hours, days, breaks and rest days; salary and payment schedule; vacation allowance; notice periods, termination, and severance terms; any probation period.
  • KETs should be given to EA employees within 14 days of starting employment
  • If not in the KET, information such as policies on leave and medical benefits can be in the company’s employee handbook or on their intranet
  • Employers and employees are free to contract their arrangements if they do not contradict minimum benefits and entitlements as spelt out in the Act.


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