Doing business

Current business situation

Singapore is dynamic and business oriented, has a strong and sophisticated economy and the major regional hub for multinational businesses operating in Asia. Regarded as a rapidly growing nation, Singapore is a key cornerstone to regional development and has a role to play in driving Asia’s growth.

Singapore is a major trade, logistics and manufacturing hub for:

  • aerospace
  • wealth management
  • financial services including fintech
  • water and waste treatment technology
  • healthcare and medical including medtech
  • food and beverage services
  • oil and gas
  • clean energy.

According to government statistics, there are 37,400 international companies with headquarters in Singapore, which include 7,000 multinationals. More than half of these companies use Singapore as the regional headquarters for their Asia-Pacific business.

Key sectors where Singapore companies have expertise include:

  • environment and infrastructure solutions – energy, smart cities, tourism infrastructure, townships, waste and water
  • lifestyle business – education, fashion, food products, food services, furniture, healthcare and wellness
  • technology business – aerospace, consumer electronics, media, and medical technology
  • transport and logistics – aviation, land transportation and logistics, oil and gas (upstream and downstream), ports and port services (Source: IE Singapore).

At the end of 2014, total assets managed by Singapore-based asset managers grew by 30 per cent to S$2,359 billion, compared to S$1,818 billion at end-2013. In 2014, 81 per cent of total assets under management was sourced from outside Singapore, compared to 77 per cent in 2013. Of this, 54 per cent was sourced from the Asia-Pacific, 19 per cent from Europe and 18 per cent from North America, demonstrating Singapore’s role in serving regional and international investors.

Technology and innovation will increasingly be a critical driver for the asset management industry. Asset managers are embracing data analytics to gain better insights on investors’ needs, strengthen investment decision making and risk management. Financial technology also has the potential to disrupt existing distribution channel on how investment solutions are delivered, resulting in enhanced client experience and cost savings (Source: 2014 Singapore Asset Management Survey, Monetary Authority of Singapore).

Australia and Singapore enjoy a close relationship and there are many opportunities in industries such as:

  • aerospace
  • healthcare and aged care
  • infrastructure
  • building and construction
  • business services
  • technology (including fintech, medtech and edutech)
  • education (VET, skills development, research)
  • food and beverages.

Business culture

Business is normally conducted in English and in a straightforward manner. As in many Asian countries, Singapore has a formal business culture with a few rules concerning etiquette which can vary according to the different nationalities e.g. Chinese, Malay and Indian.

There are many useful publications on business culture in Singapore and potential visitors may want to read these books before their visit.

Generally speaking, Australians are held in high regard in Singapore.

Setting up in Singapore

Singapore is a high-income economy with a Gross National Income (GNI) of S$383 billion in 2015, an increase of 3.7 per cent over 2014 (S$369 billion), as reported by the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry.

According to The World Bank, Singapore provides the world’s most business-friendly regulatory environment for local entrepreneurs and is ranked among the world’s most competitive economies (Source: The World Bank).

The benefits to setting-up offices in Singapore can be significant, whether you’re an individual or a corporation, the process of starting a business is simple. The pro-business policies allow relatively hassle-free entry and exit from the country through special visas and passes.

The Singapore Economic Development Board provides more detailed information about setting-up an office.

Banking and finance

Located in the heart of Asia, Singapore offers global investors access to global markets. Strategically located to serve Asia-Pacific, one of the world’s fastest-growing regions, Singapore’s well-established business infrastructure, global connectivity and trade linkages enable investors to access the approximately four billion strong Asian market within a radius of seven hours’ flight time.

Singapore continues to be well-regarded as a triple-A rated economy with strong growth potential, a sound and stable location for business expansion as well as for investments.

More detailed information about Singapore as a financial centre can be found on the Monetary Authority of Singapore website.

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority
Association of Banks of Singapore
Australian Chamber of Commerce, Singapore
Australian and New Zealand Association
GeBIZ, one-stop e-procurement portal
Health Sciences Authority
Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority
Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore
Intellectual Property Office of Singapore
International Enterprise Singapore
Land Transport Authority
M1
Ministry Of Communications and Information
Ministry of Health
Ministry of Manpower
Ministry of Trade and Industry Singapore
Monetary Authority of Singapore
Singapore Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority
Singapore Customs
Singapore Economic Development Board
Singapore Government Online
Singapore Mint
SingTel
The SME Portal
SPRING Singapore
StarHub

News and media

Asiaone
The Business Times
Channel NewsAsia
Straits Times Interactive

Please note: This list of websites and resources is not definitive. Inclusion in this list does not imply endorsement by Austrade. The information provided is a guide only. The content is for information and carries no warranty; as such, the addressee must exercise their own discretion in its use. Australia’s anti-bribery laws apply overseas and Austrade will not provide business related services to any party who breaches the law and will report credible evidence of any breach. For further information, please see foreign bribery information and awareness pack.