A Location Of Choice

According to the 2015 Doing Business Report by the World Bank, Singapore is once again, the easiest place in the world to conduct business.

Singapore, the "Asian Tiger"

It is the 9th consecutive year in which this “Asian tiger” has been ranked top. This is due to the marriage of several important factors, all of which removed the complexity, bureaucracy and cumbersome administrative processes.

Many of the company administration requirements in Singapore can be performed online, 24/7, including:

  • Incorporating a company with Singapore’s Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority “ACRA”,
  • Applying for relevant business licenses via the Online Business Licensing Service “OBLS”,
  • Tax account registration with Inland Revenue Authority Singapore “IRAS”

Singapore is a stable and well-governed jurisdiction and therefore provides an excellent launchpad for further investment into the South-east Asia and the wider Asia Pacific region.

The Singapore government welcomes investors and is committed to the development of a robust and business friendly environment. It isone of the strongest economies in the Asia Pacific region, with the world’s 7th largest GDP per capita. Singapore is a member of ASEAN and operates in a stable political environment.. The corporate tax rates are relatively low and there are pro-business tax concessions and sizeable investment incentives available.  It offers a world class infrastructureboasting one of the best airports in the world, strategically located, with direct flights to most Asian capitals as well as a top ranking port.The workforce is highly qualified and the quality of life is the best in Asia.

It is THE gateway to Asia. 

General Information About Singapore:

GEOGRAPHY

Singapore is a small tropical island of about 710 sq. km, lying just one degree north of the equator.

POPULATION

It has a population of close to 5.5 million of which ethnic Chinese make up 74% of the ethnic composition. Malays and Indians are the main minority ethnic groups. 

CLIMATE

Due to its close proximity to the equator, Singapore has a relatively uniform temperature ranging from 23ºC before dawn to 32ºC in the afternoon with high humidity and abundant rainfall throughout the year.

POLITICAL SYSTEM

Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government based on the Westminster model.

The constitution provides for a parliamentary system of government, which is democratically elected by the people. Elections must be held at least once every five years. An elected President, who is Head of State, holds office for a six-year term. The
leader of the majority party in parliament is appointed Prime Minister, the head of the Government.

Since gaining independence in 1965 Singapore has remained politically stable. In the general elections since independence, the People’s Action Party has been elected to most of the parliamentary seats.

CURRENCY

The unit of currency is the Singapore Dollar, which is made up of 100 cents. There is no specific restriction on the transfer of funds.

LANGUAGE

There are 4 official languages in Singapore: English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil. English is the most widely used, especially for business and administrative purposes. A large majority of the population is bilingual.

ECONOMY

Singapore’s economic success is attributable to the government’s pro-business approach, which keeps “red tape” to a minimum. Its economic growth track records have been healthy with average annual growth in GDP per capita and is ranked one of the highest in the world. In 2015 the economy grew by 2.1% and the Ministry of Trade and Industry maintains the growth forecast for 2016 at 1.0 to 3.0%.

Asia Pacific is a fast-growing region with the opening up of the Southeast Asia and Indochina consumer market. Moreover, this growth has been spurred by the liberalisation of China’s and India’s economies. Located at the heart of Asia Pacific, Singapore is one of the most important gateways to the region and is an ideal location to establish operational headquarters to manage Asia Pacific operations.

To stay ahead of the competition, Singapore is restructuring its economy towards high-value manufacturing and services and positioning itself as a global hub for finance, communications, research and development and entrepreneurship.

BILATERAL AGREEMENTS

Investors can benefit from Singapore’s extensive bilateral agreements. The country has double taxation agreements with 81 countries, 21 regional and bilateral free trade agreements with 32 trading partners and 41 investment guarantee agreements–all of which contribute to greater investment flows and protection.

GOVERNMENT INCENTIVES

The Economic Development Board (EDB) is keen to stimulate business investment in Singapore. Together with other major government agencies such as International Enterprise Singapore (IE Singapore), Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA), they operate a number of incentives and development schemes. The schemes are available in the following categories: Financial Incentives, mainly to provide funding on certain business undertakings and Tax Incentives which provide exemptions or reduced tax rates on specific transactions/activities.

LEGAL SYSTEM

The legal system has its roots in the English common law system.

TIME

Singapore is 8 hours ahead of GMT. There is no Daylight Saving Time in Singapore.

Time differences with other main capital cities are as follows:

  • 7 or 8 hours ahead of London;
  • 6 or 7 hours ahead of Paris, Madrid, Berlin, Rome;
  • 12 or 13 hours ahead of New York;
  • 15 or 16 hours ahead of Los Angeles;
  • No difference with Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong;
  • 1 hour behind Tokyo and Seoul;
  • 1 hour ahead of Bangkok and Jakarta.

BUSINESS HOURS

Office hours are generally 9.00 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

TRANSPORTATION

Travel within Singapore is facilitated by an excellent system of roads, highways, expressways and railways. The Mass Rapid Transport System (MRT) is one of the most technologically advanced railway systems in the world.

NAMES

As with many other places in Asia, the exchange of name cards is an important step in a business meeting. The presentation of names depends on the cultural group to which one belongs:

  • Chinese names usually start by the last name and are followed by one or two first names. Men may be called by their title and their last name. Married women may use either their maiden name or their husband’s name. It is common practice for Chinese to choose a western type name and introduce themselves using common names such as, ‘Kevin’ or ‘Chris’.
  • Malays have no family name but rather identify the name by adding to their given name the one of their father using ‘bin’ meaning ‘son of’ or ‘bint’ meaning ‘daughter of’. As such Ali bin Ibrahim means Ali son of Ibrahim.
  • Traditionally, Indians do not have family names. However, an increasing number of Indians have adopted a family name constantly used throughout generations.

BUSINESS BEHAVIOUR

Closing a business deal in Singapore might require some time because people are generally more cautious in wanting to conclude the best deal. The initial discussions may seem easy due to overpromises. However, there is still much to discuss before a deal is concluded.

One of the key elements when conducting a business discussion is the need to maintain face. It is advisable to avoid direct answers to your counterpart especially when they are negative. One may prefer “we will see” rather than a direct “no”. Always maintain a gentle tone and avoid losing one’s temper even when faced with pressure.

PHYSICAL CONTACT

It is common to shake hands in a business environment in Singapore.

A large majority of Malays are Muslims. As a result, one should avoid physical contact between sexes in a business environment. It is best to leave the initiative to the counterpart before placing one’s hand over.

A gentle handshake is suitable when greeting Chinese Singaporeans.

Shaking hands is also suitable to when greeting Indians. However, older generations of Indians may prefer to use the Namaste (slight bow with the palms of the hand joined) as a greeting; especially women. 

Sources:

World Bank Group: Doing Business – Economy Rankings

Forbes: What Makes An Asian Tiger? Singapore's Unlikely Economic Success Lies In Its History

Singapore Economic Development Board: Facts and Rankings.

The Straits Times: Business – Singapore top in Asia again for quality of life for expats.

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