New businesses looking for opportunities should know that Singapore stands firmly on a solid foundation built out of trust, knowledge, connectivity and life; these are all compelling attributes that come together to form a conducive environment for companies looking to move to expand into the region with Singapore as its base.
With one of the most stable political climates in the world, Singapore has invested most of its energy in developing commerce and industry. In less than half a century, the city has achieved many impressive economic milestones in infrastructure, output and talent development.
In order to attract business, the Government keeps its tax rates and tax laws competitive, taking a strategic, holistic approach towards stewardship of key pillars of the economy, such as petrochemicals, electronics and clean energy. Most recently, it has joined a relatively new initiative called Future Singapore. This is designed to develop and test brand new ideas and solutions in the areas of urban living, wellness, ageing and healthcare and lifestyle products and services.
The Global Competitiveness Report 2013-2014 by the World Economic Forum, revealed that among its Asian counterparts, Singapore is the most competitive Asian country, second in the whole world to Switzerland. With such a strong trade and foreign investment, Singapore's business environment has won accolades, in areas ranging from business legislation to Government labour relations. The World Bank has, in its 2011 report, ranked Singapore as the world's easiest place to do business.
Singapore has established an impressive reputation in many industries including finance, oil and gas, electronics, manufacturing, education, healthcare and IT. With increased possibilities in film-making, technology, digital gaming, biomedical sciences and other new emerging technology sectors, the forecast for the future of the country shows strong promise.
The country has nurtured a robust intellectual property (IP) regime, as the preferred location for innovation. A reliable IP environment is crucial. Singapore has a significant commitment to develop a strong domestic regulatory framework to protect IP rights; they are currently rated the best place in Asia and 7th in the world for IP rights protection, the IMD World Competitiveness Report stated in 2011. Similarly, the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 ranks the island as having the best IP protection in Asia, the second best in the world.
The Government has always adopted a pro-business policy, regardless of world economic situations or crisis. It has taken tough measures including reducing corporate tax rates, lowering employers' Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates and capping office rental rates.
Living in Singapore
Singapore offers an ideal living environment, especially when you are raising a family. The healthcare system is unrivalled in the region and the local education system emphasises bilingualism. Those interested in enrolling their children in a school that abides by the system of their own countries, can also approach the many international schools here. In 2013, the average literacy rate of residents aged 15 and over was 96.5 per cent and home ownership of 90.5 per cent.
The crime rate in the country is very low, at 549 per 100,000 in 2013. It is also one of the cleanest and greenest cities in the world. Public transport is well-integrated and convenient to use, boasting world-class communications networks; in Singapore, getting superfast broadband is a given.
In the Mercer's Quality of Living Survey 2014, Singapore is the highest ranking city in Asia, ranking 25th globally. As a consistent top performer, it is clear that Singapore takes the 'work-live-play' approach very seriously. One in three persons in Singapore come from another country, which adds to the unique heritage blend, demonstrating the coming together of different cultures, lifestyles and religions and their ability to co-exist harmoniously.
World's Top Labour Force
The multi-cultural Singaporean workforce is highly educated, motivated, and productive and is proficient in English language. The country has a large base of engineering talent, with a number of engineers in universities and polytechnics expanding steadily each year, in addition to the sizeable pool of skilled technicians. Singapore is the place to be for those wishing to set up in construction and consultancy.
An open immigration policy has enhanced Singapore's talent pool, giving companies the opportunity to source the best personnel from anywhere in the world. In addition, a vast array of training and scholarship programmes are frequently developed by the Government, in tandem with industry partners and educational establishments; such initiatives ensure that the workforce is future-ready. All this has helped produce a labour force that is ranked number one in the world for the last 30 years.
The purpose of obtaining a visa is to facilitate entry into Singapore, ideal if you intend to do business regularly in the country or are looking at exploring the opportunities it has to offer. Be sure to check with the Singapore overseas mission in your country on the Visa requirements for entry into Singapore. You will also need a letter of introduction from a Singapore-registered company that is to be submitted with your application.
Of course, rapid business innovation requires world-class research and development facilities and expertise. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) ensures that Singapore has both in ample supply. With twelve research centres dedicated to a multitude of technological disciplines, Singapore attracts a world-class community of researchers and specialists from the West including America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region.
These research and development facilities have grown significantly over the last decade, drawing upon top scientific and creative talent, nurturing collaborations between the public sector and private enterprises. Today, Singapore holds global leadership positions in areas of manufacturing such as electronics and petrochemicals. The city-state remains an attractive base for complex manufacturing activities, in tandem with its move towards a more knowledge-centric and research-based economy. This emphasis on innovation and capital-intensive activities and a globalised workforce has shaped Singapore into a city-state where Chinese and Indian companies can internationalise, where American and European companies make their entry into Asia; and where views on the future of this dynamic and fast-evolving region can be forged.
With an advantageous geographical location, Singapore has become one of the world's top transportation hubs for sea and air cargo. The country's container ports are the busiest in the world, offering a choice of 200 shipping lines with links to some 600 ports in over 123 countries.
Changi International Airport is linked to some 200 cities in 60 countries, with about 5400 weekly flights, providing convenience and effective connectivity for passengers and cargo. The Changi Airfreight Centre is a 24-hour, one-stop hub for the storing, moving and repackaging of goods without the need for documentation and custom duties. This has drawn around 6000 logistics providers to Singapore, including 21 of the world's top 25 third-part logistics providers.
Singapore currently has the most extensive network of Free Trade Agreements (FTA's) in Asia, with agreements signed with key economies such as US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, members of the European Free Trade Association, Jordan, China, Chile, South Korea, India and Panama.
Furthermore, negotiations are in progress for FTA's with the Middle East and South Asian economies. Additionally, Singapore has signed 35 investment guarantee agreements (IGA's), designed to help protect investments made by Singapore-based companies in other countries against non-commercial risks.
The highly-efficient Mass Rapid Transit system, buses and taxi services make getting around the island an effortless feat. With a 99 per cent broadband reach across the population, companies here have the necessary land, air, sea and telecommunications links to operate successfully. International and regional connectivity now stands at 27.6 Tbps to more than 100 countries.
Secure and Solid Investment Opportunities
In summary, Singapore is not just an excellent business location, it is also an attractive and technologically advanced place to live in. Living in Singapore is a vibrant experience, boasting excellent quality of life prospects, easy regional access, low crime rates, political stability, high standards of infrastructure and healthcare, as well as a cosmopolitan lifestyle.
For more information visit: www.edb.gov.sg