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Singapore – ASEAN’s Financial and High-Tech Hub



Country Profiles - SingaporeSingapore has a highly developed and successful free-market economy. It enjoys a remarkably open and corruption-free environment, stable prices, and a per capita GDP higher than that of most developed countries. Unemployment is very low. The economy contracted 0.6% in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis, but has continued to grow since 2010 on the strength of renewed exports. Growth in 2014-15 was slower, at under 3%, largely a result of soft demand for exports amid a sluggish global economy and weak growth in Singapore’s manufacturing sector. The government is attempting to restructure Singapore’s economy by reducing its dependence on foreign labour, addressing weak productivity, and increasing Singaporean wages. The multi-cultural Singaporean workforce is highly educated, highly motivated and highly productive. It is also proficient in English – the language of international business. Singapore has a large base of engineering talent, with the number of engineers in universities and polytechnics expanding steadily each year, in addition to the sizeable pool of skilled technicians.
Singapore is a global transportation hub and has the most extensive network of free trade agreements (FTAs) in Asia. Singapore has built on its advantageous geographical location to become one of the world’s top transportation hubs for sea and air cargo. Singapore’s container ports are the busiest in the world. Singapore’s extensive trade links provide companies with greater market connectivity through the reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers. FTAs have been signed with key economies such as US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, members of the European Free Trade Association, Jordan, China, Chile, South Korea, India and Panama. Negotiations are in progress for FTAs with Middle East and South Asian economies. On top of this, Singapore has signed over 40 investment guarantee agreements (IGAs), designed to help protect investments made by Singapore-based companies in other countries against non-commercial risks.
Singapore has attracted major investments in pharmaceuticals and medical technology production and will continue efforts to strengthen its position as Southeast Asia’s leading financial and high-tech hub. In the last decade, Singapore has successfully grown its R&D base, drawn top scientific and creative talent and nurtured R&D collaborations between the public sector and private enterprise. Today, Singapore holds global leadership positions in areas of manufacturing such as electronics and petrochemicals. The city state remains an attractive base for complex manufacturing activities, in tandem with its move towards a more knowledge-centric and research-based economy. This emphasis on innovation and capital-intensive activities and a globalised workforce has shaped Singapore into a city state where Chinese and Indian companies can internationalise, where American and European companies make their entry into Asia, and where views on the future of this dynamic and fast-evolving region can be forged.



Population: 5.78 million
GDP (Current US$): US$ 296.64 billion / EUR 280.20 billion1
GDP (Current US$, per capita): US$ 53,053.00 / EUR 50,111.00
GDP (PPP): US$ 486.91 billion / EUR 459.91 billion
GDP (PPP, per capita): US$ 87,082.00 / EUR 82,254.00
Real GDP Growth: 1.7% year-on-year
Consumer Price Index (CPI): -0.8%
Labour Force: 3.66 million
Unemployment Rate: 2.1%
Main Industries: Electronics, chemicals, financial services, oil drilling equipment, petroleum refining, rubber processing and rubber products, processed food and beverages, ship repair, offshore platform construction, life sciences, entrepot trade
Main Exports: Machinery and equipment (including electronics and telecommunications), pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, refined petroleum products, foodstuffs and beverages.
Exports Partners: China 13.7%, Hong Kong 11.5%, Malaysia 10.8%, Indonesia 8.2%, US 6.9%, Japan 4.4%, South Korea 4.1% (2015)
Main Imports: Machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemicals, foodstuffs, consumer goods
Imports Partners: China 14.2%, US 11.2%, Malaysia 11.2%, Japan 6.3%, South Korea 6.1%, Indonesia 4.8% (2015)
Currency: Singapore dollars (SGD)
Ethnic groups: Chinese 74.2%, Malay 13.3%, Indian 9.2%, other 3.3%
Religions: Buddhist 33.9%, Muslim 14.3%, Taoist 11.3%, Catholic 7.1%, Hindu 5.2%, other Christian 11%, other 0.7%, none 16.4%
Languages: Mandarin (official) 36.3%, English (official) 29.8%, Malay (official) 11.9%, Hokkien 8.1%, Cantonese 4.1%, Tamil (official) 3.2%, Teochew 3.2%, other Indian languages 1.2%, other Chinese dialects 1.1%, other 1.1%
Literacy Rate: 96.8%

1All exchange rates as of March 2017


The government has always adopted a pro-business policy, regardless of world economic situations or crises. It has taken tough measures including reducing corporate tax rates, lowering employers’ Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates and capping office rental rates. To attract businesses ready to invest in Singapore, the government keeps its tax rates and tax laws competitive and takes a strategic, holistic approach towards stewardship of key pillars of the economy, such as petrochemicals, electronics, and clean energy. As a preferred location for innovation, Singapore has nurtured a robust intellectual property (IP) regime, and is currently rated the best place in Asia in the area of IP rights protection in the Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016.



Singapore’s economy depends heavily on exports, particularly of consumer electronics, information technology products, medical and optical devices, pharmaceuticals, and on its vibrant transportation, business, and financial services sectors. Exporters will therefore find a promising market for those industry sectors. Specific opportunities exist in the area of aircraft and parts, medical devices, environmental control equipment, computer hardware, software & peripherals, telecommunication equipment, laboratory and scientific equipment, oil & gas, semiconductors, industrial automation and education. Further opportunities exist in certain major infrastructure projects and significant government procurements.



Country Introduction & Key Economic Data:

The World Factbook:
Statistical information:
Economist Intelligence Unit Country Reports:
Knoema “World Data Atlas”:

Business Environment & Market Opportunities:

Singapore Commercial Guide:
Singapore Government – Future Ready Singapore:

International Rankings:

IFC/World Bank “Doing Business” Report 2017 – Ranked 02 / 191:
Transparency International “Corruption Perception Index” – Ranked 07 / 176:
World Economic Form – Global Competitiveness Report (2016/2017) – Ranked 02 / 138:


ASEAN Business Partners is cooperating in Singapore with trusted partners and is ready to support your business plans there. Beyond this, we would support your dispute resolution at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), in case our local mediation and negotiation in the other ASEAN countries cannot be resolved amicably. The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) was established in July 1991 as a not for profit non-governmental organisation to meet the demands of the international business community for a neutral, efficient and reliable dispute resolution institution in Asia. SIAC is committed to complete neutrality and independence in its role as an international arbitral institution.


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