Singapore is an established, mature market spearheading the growth of the ASEAN region. Ahead of Enterprise Nation's digital and technology trade mission to the county (places still available!), Jennifer Robson, founder of Routes and Branches, shares the opportunities for British businesses in Singapore and post-Brexit prognosis for the region. 

Singapore has long been a reliable partner and target market for UK exporters.

Singapore is known for integrity, quality, reliability, productivity, rule of law, and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

It is a market with highly developed technology and infrastructure. 

It has consistently ranked as one of the top countries in the ease of doing business rankings for many years. 

The multi-cultural Singaporean workforce is highly educated, highly motivated and highly productive. It is also proficient in English, the language of international business.

What's more, Singapore operates a free-flow policy on goods and capital, which makes it a favoured destination post-Brexit.

Around 99% of imports enter the country duty-free, although high taxes are levied on alcohol, tobacco, motor vehicles and petroleum products.

Many businesses choose to enter the Singaporean market as a gateway to the collection of South-east Asian nations known as ASEAN.

The region, for the most part, was fairly unscathed by the last economic crisis and has enjoyed stable growth, averaging between 5-8%.

Export sectors

The biggest sectors for exporters to Singapore are as follows:

  • Automotive
  • Visual and performing arts
  • Sports
  • Natural resources
  • Robotics
  • Safety and security

Most recently the Singaporean government have launched an initiative called Future-Singapore. This is designed to develop and test bed new ideas and solutions in the areas of urban living, wellness, ageing and healthcare, and lifestyle products and services.

Legal considerations

The legal system in Singapore is based on English common law and the judiciary is relatively independent.

Corruption and crime are generally low. Whilst it is always advisable to conduct due diligence where appropriate, you can have confidence that the legal system here is one of the most robust in the world.

However, Singapore has tightened up foreign business regulations in the recent past, particularly when it comes to hiring foreign employees.

If you wish to set up a business or subsidiary in the country, you should be aware of the local employee quotas involved, as well as other regulations that may impact on set-up costs and logistics.

Excellent support network

Singapore is well-known for its pro-business environment, with excellent infrastructure and a highly-trained, educated and skilled workforce.

In addition it has an extremely efficient support system for businesses. One such organisation is the Singapore Business Federation (SBF).  

The SBF helps companies looking to use Singapore to expand into the region. Services include overseas missions and an AccessAsia programme, which provides advisory services such as business matching.  We would highly recommend connecting with the SBF to leverage upon the support they provide. 

The Economic Development Board also provide excellent advice for companies looking to establish a presence in Singapore. It has a helpful resources page where businesses can download guides about specific aspects of doing business in Singapore. 

You'll meet representatives from the Economic Development Board during Enterprise Nation's trade mission.

Advantages of using Singapore as a gateway to ASEAN

With a population of more than 600m and a nominal GDP of $2.31 trillion, nine out of 10 of the fastest growing mega-cities in the world are in ASEAN.

63% of the world's 440 fastest emerging cities are in the region, and it is expected that this growth will add a billion new consumers and a total purchasing power in excess of $10 trillion to the global economy.

Sometime in the next few years, Asia will house one of the youngest and largest workforces, numbering around three billion and representing 52% of the global workforce. North America, South America and Europe combined will account for just 21%.

Post-Brexit prognosis

Singapore, and the ASEAN region in general, remain markets with high potential for the post-Brexit UK.

It is hoped that a Singapore trade agreement, similar to that already in place with the EU, can be quickly agreed although nothing has yet been finalised.

Given its strong growth prospects and resilience against global economic headwinds, Singapore should be seriously considered as an export market for UK businesses in all sectors.

If you're quick you could grab one of the last remaining places for Enterprise Nation's Go Global trade mission to Sinapore on 20-24 September. The trip features an amazing agenda which will give you an an understanding of the creative technology landscape in Singapore, the ins and outs of tax, legal, trade and finance process and systems and an opportunity to make sales, connections and collaborations with local agencies, government representatives, accelerators and your fellow mission goers. Find out more.

Go Global Singapore 2017 is supported by:

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