International companies entering the Singaporean market are attracted by the many opportunities the country offers. Although Singapore is a relatively tiny city-state in Asia, it is a significant player in commerce and finance. While Singapore’s nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2021 ranked only 38th in the world at 378.6 billion US dollars, its population is among the world’s richest, with a per capita GDP of US$66,263 ranking sixth globally.
Singapore’s economy is the sixth largest among fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Additionally, the World Bank’s absolute ease of doing business report in 2020 placed Singapore second best globally. It is the only Asian nation with a Triple AAA credit rating and is a crossing point for east and west shipping lanes (with the world’s second-largest port), while 50% of the world’s population is within a six-hour flight away. Ultra-clean, ultra-safe and a nation with many tourist attractions, Singapore blends the modern world with heritage, history and culture.
All Singapore companies operate under the Companies Act, which covers incorporation and regulations dealing with shares, directors and officers, accounts and other provisions. Quotas apply to the make-up of the workforce, while incoming companies must set up a legal entity if they plan to hire staff and operate their payroll. The most popular choice is to establish a private limited liability company.
The registration procedures include the following:
Expanding a business in Singapore, as in any overseas territory can bring challenges. Moving staff worldwide means lengthy processes to obtain visas and work permits. When employees are in place, who will handle payroll? How will your company deal with regulations on taxation, entitlements and benefits, termination and severance? Your business plan will have to answer all these questions.
Singapore generally welcomes foreign investment. However, there are quotas on the number of foreign employees allowed to work compared with the number of Singaporeans in the workforce. Employment legislation is a mix of the Employment Act – which does not apply to all workers – as well as guidelines from the Ministry of Manpower and tripartite agreements between employers, trade unions and the government.
Where to locate within the country?
Singapore is a country, an island and a city-state in Southeast Asia, and is only around 275 sq. miles which means it would fit nearly four times into Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States! So, no trouble getting around, especially with their fast and efficient transportation system, considered one of the best in the world. It is also the second-largest global port and is a hub for east and west shipping traffic. When looking to locate an office in Singapore, distance will not be a factor. In fact, the whole of Singapore is a conducive hub for business. There is a thriving retail industry on the one hand and biomedical research on the other in an R&D hub at One-North. This is where you will find an assortment of growth industries for 2022 such as finance, ICT, the services section and a strong resurgence in manufacturing and trade.
Examples of good office and lifestyle areas to settle in are:
What to look for in your office premises:
Some advantages of entering the Singaporean market include the following:
Some challenges of entering the Singaporean market include: