“If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London, if you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York City, and if you are smart in 2007 you move to Asia… Singapore 40 years ago was a swamp with a half a million people. Singapore now, 40 years later, is the country with the largest foreign currency reserve per capita of any country in the world…. It’s got the best education in the world, the best health care in the world. It’s astonishing to come to Singapore and see that everything works…. Singapore is going to be the financial center of Southeast Asia, probably Asia, and likely one of the top financial centers of the world.” - Jim Rogers, US Investor
American-born businessman Jim Rogers, recognized as one of the giants of Wall Street, moved to Singapore in 2007. He already knows what the rest of the business world is now discovering-Singapore is a global business magnet that offers an amazing quality of life to its residents, and has only just begun to assume its position as a world leader in business and finance.
Among the many words used to describe Singapore, those that expatriates now living in the country use most often include “comfortably diverse,” “I love taxes here,” “safe living environment,” “cutting-edge business community” and “relaxed, stable lifestyle,” all of which are critically important to those interested in making a major life change.
In addition to a unique and fascinating lifestyle and culture, Singapore has a tremendous amount to offer the international business community. Here is a list that further underscores why entrepreneurs, corporations and ventures of all sizes consider Singapore the perfect location to setup their company or business:
Singapore is rated #1 in the world by World Bank for ease of doing business
Singapore is ranked the third wealthiest nation in the world by Forbes magazine.
Singapore has been ranked as the third most globalized economy among 60 of the world’s largest economies in the recently released Ernst and Young 2011 Globalization Index
Singapore is rated #1 as the most politically stable country in Asia
Singapore is rated #1 as the best labor force in the world
Singapore is rated #1 in Asia for quality of life
Corporate tax rates are about 8.5% up to $300K profits and a flat 17% above that
There are no dividend or capital gains taxes in Singapore
There is no estate/death/inheritance tax in Singapore
Personal tax rates start at 0% and max out at 20% above $320K
Fellow American expatriate Derek Sivers agrees. “…(Singapore) feels like a small town in a big city, with the advantages of both. It’s a great place to set up a business, which is important to me.”
Sivers and his wife traveled all over the world looking for the perfect place to call home. A couple of years ago, after just one visit to Singapore, he and his wife decided to put down roots here. “We went down to Brazil, up to Sweden, around Europe, over to India and China. There’s so much going on in Asia, so exciting, so much to learn. I really wanted a home base in the middle of it all. And so we found Singapore,” he explained.
So what makes Singapore attractive to foreign entrepreneurs and firms?
Singapore’s Strategic Location
One major advantage of relocating your business to Singapore is its convenient location. Singapore is situated in the heart of Southeast Asia, making it possible for your business to access a market of 2.8 billion people within a few hours flight. Singapore’s port is one of the busiest in the world, and the country is classified as a premier International Maritime Center.
Singapore’s Changi Airport serves over 15 million passengers annually. The airport’s emphasis on competitiveness, efficiency and service have helped make it the “Best Airport in the World” for 20 consecutive years. A hub in the Asia-Pacific region, Singapore’s Changi Airport provides businesses with easy access to all major Asian markets.
Singapore Means Business
Singapore is known for its pro-business environment, capable of attracting sizable foreign investments and business entrepreneurs. In Singapore, you can turn your ideas into businesses with ease, and achieve significant profits. In stark contrast to many Western nations, it only takes about 1-2 days to incorporate a company in Singapore, with the government providing assistance along the way. Simply stated, Singapore is the easiest place in the world to set up and manage a business.
To find out more about Singapore’s exciting economic environment, refer to our Singapore Economy page.
Singapore’s Outstanding Tax System
Taxes are at the top of the agenda for any entrepreneur, and one of the key considerations for setting up a business anywhere in the world. One of Singapore’s unique advantages is its low effective personal and corporate tax rates. Personal income tax has a tier system that starts from just 0% and goes up to 20% for income above S$320,000.
Similarly, effective corporate tax rate for Singapore private limited companies for profits up to $S300,000 is below 9% and capped at a flat rate of 17% for profits above $S300,000. There are no capital gains taxes in Singapore, which follows a single-tier tax policy; for income that has been taxed at the corporate level, dividends can be distributed to its shareholders tax-free.
In an effort to move away from a dependency on income taxes and to make the economy even more competitive, the government has adopted a more broad-based consumption tax called Goods and Services Tax (GST). Singapore maintains one of the world’s lowest GST rates (currently 7%), ranking below the global average VAT/GST rate of 16.4%, and the Asia-Pacific average of 10.5%.
For more information about taxes in Singapore, refer to Singapore Taxation page.
Flexible Immigration Policies
Singapore’s open Immigration policy facilitates the relocation of foreign nationals who wish to setup businesses here. If you are an entrepreneur who needs to relocate to Singapore to run your business or need to hire foreign professionals, the government has anticipated your needs and made appropriate Singapore work visa provisions.
To help value adding individuals settle permanently, Singapore has a relaxed immigration policy, making it easier for foreign professionals to gain Singapore Permanent Residence (PR) status.
Comprehensive Intellectual Property Protection
IP protection is taken seriously in Singapore. Singapore has become a one-stop center for businesses seeking to manage their IP assets. The World Economic Forum (WEF), the Institute for Management Development (IMD) and the Political Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) have all ranked Singapore top in Asia.
Singapore has very strong copyright laws. In Singapore, it’s a criminal offense for a person or company to conduct willful copyright infringement.
In addition to registering a trademark in Singapore, Singapore businesses can also file for global trademark registration from Singapore as the country is a signatory to major IP conventions and treaties, such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty, Paris Convention, Berne Convention, Madrid Protocol, Budapest Treaty, Agreement on Trade-related aspects of IP rights, and World Intellectual Property Organisation.
An Honest and Open Government
Businesses do not exist in a vacuum – they need a supportive political infrastructure to grow and thrive. Singapore’s political system is one that enacts laws, decides priorities and sets regulations using a rational, pro-business approach. Singapore has a stable and orderly government, whose vision is to take this nation to the front of the industrialized nations.
To learn more about Singapore’s political environment, refer to Introduction to Singapore’s Political System page.
The World’s Best Labour Force
Singapore has built an attractive, world-class, and productive work-force – a key ingredient for the success of any business. Since the country is primarily a knowledge-based economy, its manpower force is educated and professionally qualified. Singapore’s workforce is recognized for its high level of education, high productivity, technical proficiency, work-hard and work-smart culture. The Singapore workforce is both cosmopolitan and international, attracting professionals from all over the world, who bring with them their extensive knowledge and business expertise.
As an added inducement for employers and entrepreneurs interested in starting a business or creating a branch office, Singapore boasts of the “Best Labour Force in the World” in the latest rankings.
A Higher Quality of Life
Most foreign-born professionals and entrepreneurs who setup businesses and relocate to Singapore do so with their family. One of the top concerns for new residents of Singapore is the quality of life.
Singapore provides all of its residents with excellent public and private transportation, top quality healthcare, a safe and healthy living environment, easy access to many other nations, excellent schools, an outstanding support system for businesses, entrepreneurs and corporations, and an endless selection of cultural and educational opportunities.