Doing Business in Singapore - Guide

Singapore Skyline

Our guide to doing business in Singapore

An incredible skyline packed with soaring architecture, famous for it's fine dining and colonial heritage, Singapore is now one of the world's most interesting markets.

A small, but wealthy city-state with an open and trade driven economy. It’s a leading global business hub, located where the major east and west shipping lanes converge.

Singapore has a stable government, strong rule of law and effective regulatory system. It is ranked by the World Bank as the easiest place in the world to start, run and do business. You can set up a new business in a matter of hours. It’s a financial, shipping and trade hub for the Asia Pacific region, and the government has a pro-business economic and trade policy. Over 1,000 British companies have a presence in Singapore, and 30,000 British residents live there.

Benefits to UK businesses exporting to Singapore include:

  • free flow of goods and capital
  • current exchange rate makes UK products and services attractive
  • common language and strong historical ties
  • similar business and legal practices
  • similar technical standards
  • close to major Asia Pacific economies
  • UK’s largest trade partner in south east Asia

Strengths of the Singapore market include:

  • 50% of the world’s population within 6 hours flight
  • fourth largest global financial centre
  • Asia’s only AAA credit rating from all 3 agencies
  • Asia’s strongest Intellectual Property (IP) protection
  • highly skilled and educated local population
  • low corruption and strong rule of law
  • excellent infrastructure and transport connectivity

Growth potential

As one of the world’s most open economies Singapore is a indicator of global trade. Growth slowed in 2015 to 2% from 2.9% in 2014 mainly due to sluggish trade with China. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts growth of 2.9% in 2016. Challenging conditions are likely to persist and growth of 1 to 3% annually is forecast over the medium term. Singapore is the second most densely populated country in the world with one-third of the population made up of foreign workers and residents. It’s economy:

  • is the 36th largest in the world
  • is vulnerable to external shocks
  • has per capita income of USD 56,000, the highest in Asia Pacific and higher than most developed countries including the UK

Singapore is currently restructuring its economy to:

  • reduce its dependence on imported labour
  • improve productivity
  • This move towards knowledge-driven, high-value and creative businesses offers huge opportunities for UK businesses with expertise in these areas.

UK and Singapore trade

Singapore accounts for half of UK exports to ASEAN, worth £5.6 billion in 2014, although some will be re-exported elsewhere. It is one of our largest trading partners in Asia and one of the few countries with which the UK has a trade surplus.

The top 10 exports from UK to Singapore are:

  • machinery and transport equipment
  • business services
  • financial and insurance services
  • miscellaneous manufactured articles
  • transport services
  • chemicals
  • food and beverages
  • manufactured goods
  • travel services
  • intellectual property

The UK is the largest EU investor into Singapore (on par with the Netherlands). It’s the fifth largest total source of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Singapore with investments worth over £30 billion at the end of 2014. Half of Singapore’s FDI into the EU goes to the UK, including some significant investments in infrastructure.

Business behaviour

Singapore is in some ways more conservative than the UK. It is important to:

  • address people formally
  • exchange name cards at the first meeting


  • Are you interested in entering the ASEAN market?

    Our locally based market specialists can offer you support ensuring that you tick every box before you take the plunge.

    Give us a call today on 01275 370 944

  • Get in touch

    Speak to our locally based export market specialists and our in-market delivery partners to explore how your business can look further afield to grow its international sales in the high-growth markets of Asia and Latin America.

    *Please note that new applications for EYGR under the Export for Growth programme are now closed. Support remains available for clients who applied and were accepted on or before the 29th November 2019.*

Useful links

  • International Market Research

    Before entering any new foreign market it is essential to carry out detailed international market research. We can help.

    Find out more
  • Intellectual Property Protection

    Our professional IP advisers have decades of experience helping businesses file IP applications in all countries.

    Find out more
  • 10 tips for getting your products to Singapore

    One of the easiest places to do business in the world here are 10 tips to get you started.

    Find out more