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:

  • oil and gas
  • aviation
  • wealth management
  • financial services
  • water technology
  • healthcare and medical
  • food and beverage
  • arbitration/legal services.

According to government statistics, there are 37 400 international companies with headquarters in Singapore, which include 7000 multinationals. More than half of these companies use Singapore as the regional headquarters for their Asia-Pacific business.

In February 2014, the government announced various measures to encourage employers to hire foreign workers, as the country pursues quality growth driven by better skills and higher productivity.

A world leader in a number of strategically selected industries, such as:

  • electronics
  • financial services
  • oil and gas drilling equipment
  • petroleum refining
  • pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • processed food and beverages
  • rubber products and ship repair.

Singapore is at the centre of a transition in the global wealth management business, tipped to over take Switzerland, as the world’s largest private wealth hub in 2015. The value of assets under management in Singapore jumped to a record A$1.45 trillion last year, reflecting the success in attracting the regions rapidly expanding wealth.

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

  • aerospace
  • oil and gas
  • healthcare and aged care
  • infrastructure
  • building and construction
  • business services
  • technology (including ehealth, medical devices and ICT)
  • 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. 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 of Gross National Income (GNI) of S$36 billion in 2013, as reported by the Singapore Ministry of Trade & Industry (PDF, 16.8MB).

In October 2013, the World Bank reported that Singapore provides the world’s most business-friendly regulatory environment for local entrepreneurs and is ranked among the world’s most competitive economies.

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

Singapore has a well-established and diversified financial sector, serving not only its domestic economy, but the wider Asia-Pacific region and in some instances, the world. The country 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.

The Asian dollar market located in East Asia is used for loans or bank deposits that are denominated in United States dollars, with banks in Asia sometimes offering dollar market services.

The Asian Dollar Market has been critical to Singapore’s role in financing regional growth and banks draw in non-Singapore dollar deposits globally. Deployed to serve the financing and treasury needs of individuals, corporates and institutions in Singapore and the region. (Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore)

Singapore’s deep and liquid capital markets are a key source of funding for the region’s growth and development. Recognised as a premier wealth management hub, the country offers investors direct access to a plethora of regional and global investment opportunities.

The robust and transparent legal framework coupled with economic and political stability, provides the ideal location for wealth managers to tap asset gathering opportunities in the region. As the leading insurance marketplace in Asia, Singapore also plays host to a vibrant ecosystem of life and general insurers, reinsurers, captives, intermediaries and ancillary service providers.

Singapore is considered one of the premier asset management locations in Asia, with steady growth and total assets under management of around S$1 trillion. (Source: Monetary Authority of Singapore)

Links and resources

Government, business and trade

Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority
Association of Banks of Singapore
Australian and New Zealand Association
Australian Chamber of Commerce, Singapore
EnterpriseOne
Government e-Business System
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
SPRING Singapore
StarHub

News and media

Asiaone
Channel NewsAsia
Straits Times Interactive
The Business Times

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.