Singapore Business Services Overview
Setting up a business in Singapore
Singapore is considered as one of the best place to set up business. At the heart of
Singapore’s thriving business ecosystem is a unique blend of competitive strengths that
makes Singapore the location of choice for global enterprises. This distinctive combination
of CORE competencies, coupled with Singapore’s physical and metaphorical location
between Western sophistication and Eastern growth potential, confers a host of benefits
to the businesses that invest and reside here.
A cosmopolitan society, Singapore is an ideal platform for the meeting of global talents,
ideas, funds and businesses. The government is highly attuned to the needs of business,
and the workforce is an efficient and technology-savvy lot.
Singapore's extensive network of Free Trade Agreements, Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreements and Investment Guarantee Agreements, as well as its comprehensive air, sea and IT infrastructures, provides for the seamless flow of goods and services to markets around the world.
Singapore’s willing acceptance of globalisation, and its corresponding foreign cultural and
economic infusion, has a circuitous effect on the national ethos through the engendering
of cosmopolitanism, which in turn stimulates openness. With a foreigner-local ratio of
1:4 and university enrolment of foreign students at 20% of yearly intake, Singapore has
demonstrated its favorable reception of differing cultures, thus explaining its ranking as
the best place to live in Asia (ECA International 2008) for the sixth straight year.
Singapore's safe, pro-business environment is supported by a well-respected government with transparent and consistent policies that protect companies' physical and IP investments.
Home to a concentration of international enterprises, headquarters operations and startups, Singapore has a vibrant enterprise ecosystem that fuels interaction and growth.
Singapore is the most cost competitive business location among industrialised countries
in the world, according to a 2006 study by consultants KPMG. This is based on the
measurement of 27 cost components which include labour, benefits, business facilities,
taxes and utilities. The biggest cost component is labour costs, followed by facility costs
Singapore has enjoyed spectacular economic growth since independence. The Singapore
economy grew by a healthy rate of 14.4% in the second quarter of 2008, its fastest pace
in two years. The figures reflect a boom in construction and banking.
However economies across Asia’s are being effected as the U.S. cuts demand for the
continents exports, Singapore’s trade promotion agency lowered its forecast for export
growth in 2008 to between 2% - 4%, from an earlier range of 4% - 6%.
The government has reiterated its forecast for the economy to grow between 4 percent
and 6 percent in 2008, below the average growth rate of 8.1% in the previous four
Singapore is a republic with a parliamentary system of government based on the
The Constitution provides for the three organs of state, namely, the Executive (Cabinet),
the Legislature and the Judiciary. The President, as the Head of State, appoints the
Prime Minister and the other Cabinet members from among the elected Members of
Parliament. The Prime Minister leads the Cabinet in the administration of the Government.
The Cabinet is responsible for all Government policies and the day-to-day administration
of the affairs of the state. It is responsible collectively to Parliament.
The Head of State, President SR Nathan was elected on 18 August 1999 and re-elected
to a second term on 1st September 2005. The cabinet is led by Prime Minister, Mr Lee
Hsien Loong who took over as Singapore’s third Prime Minister in 12 August 2004.
Parliament is elected by general elections held every five years, and are contested by
several political parties. A number of uniquely Singaporean political channels, such as
Non-Constituency Members of Parliament, Nominated Members of Parliament, and the
Feedback Unit, ensure that alternative views get raised and debated. The President is
elected for a fixed term of six years.
The first sitting of Parliament was held on 8 Dec 1965 and the first general election for
Parliament was held on 13 Apr 1968. There are 23 registered political parties. Parliament,
elected on May 6th, 2006 has 82 People’s Action Party Members of Parliament (MPs), 2
Opposition MPs and 1 Non-Constituency Member of Parliament. In addition, there are 9
Nominated MPs. Next elections are to be held by 2011.
Surveys often identify Singapore as one of Asia’s most politically stable countries.
Singapore's legal system is based on the English common law, founded on the Constitution, legislation, subsidiary legislation and judge-made law. Through the implementation of sound, transparent and pro-business legal policies, Singapore is able to create and maintain an excellent business climate. Singapore’s Ministry of Law ensures that the legal infrastructure remains clear, efficacious and transparent.
All business operating in Singapore are subject to laws of Singapore, with the necessity to comply with the legal obligation or face penalties for non-compliance. The laws that apply will depend on the business structure, the specific industry and the type of business activities conducted.
Companies registered in Singapore are encouraged to present true and fair financial statements that are in accordance with internationally accepted accounting standards. The Council on Corporate Disclosure and Governance is responsible for strengthening the framework on disclosure practices and reporting standards as well as constantly encouraging the companies in Singapore to improve their corporate governance culture and practices.
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore or IPOS is the leading government agency acting as the regulator and policy advisor providing a sound legal administrative framework for the protection of intellectual property. IPOS formulates and administers intellectual property (IP) laws, promotes IP awareness and provides the infrastructure to facilitate the greater development of IP in Singapore.
There is also the multi-network agencies in Singapore established with the aims to provide guidance about standards, laws and regulations.
The East meets West in Singapore - the city fuses modernity and tradition. The society
is multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-lingual.
Singapore’s people are largely descendants of immigrants from the Malay Peninsula, China,
the Indian sub-continent and Sri Lanka. They have gradually acquired a distinct identity as
Singaporeans while still retaining their traditional practices, customs and festivals.
Singapore’s multicultural society is reflected in its main ethnic groups: the Chinese
numbering (76.8 %), Malays (13.9 %), Indians (7.9 %) and Eurasians and smaller minority
groups (1.4 %). A potpourri of colorful festivals associated with their respective religions
are celebrated in multi-racial Singapore throughout the year. The customs and festivals
of the different ethnic groups in Singapore highlight the nation’s rich cultural heritage.