Singapore increasingly serves as a hub for Southeast Asia across an extensive range of financial and business services. The services sector makes up over two thirds of GDP share, dominated by financial and business services. Singapore is the fourth global financial centre after London, New York and Hong Kong, and the second largest wealth management centre after Switzerland.
Thanks to its geographical location, its port, airport and deregulated telecommunications, Singapore is a regional centre for practically every commercial activity, most importantly: transhipment, warehousing, distribution, procurement, financial and business services. The links between Singapore’s Chinese business community and its counterparts in the region have reinforced these advantages. Trading links with Malaysia and Indonesia are strong and well-established. English is the official business language and Singapore’s legal system is based on British Common Law, providing strong IP protection. Singapore has the 2nd most protective IP regime in the world after Finland, according to the World Economic Forum.
The General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) has ranked Singapore the world’s 16th largest importer and exporter. Both the main exported and imported items are: chemicals and chemical products, petroleum and products, manufactured goods (i.e iron and steel, non-metal mineral manufactures and metal manufactures, etc) and machinery and transport equipment (i.e office and data machines, telecommunication apparatus and electrical goods, etc).
- Head of State: President Tony Tan Keng Yam
- Capital city: Singapore
- Total population: 5,610,000
- Languages: Mandarin (official), English (official), Hokkien, Tamil, Cantonese, Teochew, Malay (official), other Chinese dialects
- Religions: Buddhist 33%, Christian 18.8% Muslim 14%, Taoist 11%, Hindu 5%, Other 18.2%
- Monetary unit: Singapore dollar (SGD)
- Natural resources: Fish, deepwater ports
- Major exports: Machinery and equipment (electronics and telecommunications), pharmaceuticals and other chemicals, refined petroleum products
- Major imports: Machinery and equipment, foodstuffs, consumer goods, mineral fuels, chemicals
Singapore is a founding member of ASEAN and joined in August 1967. It is a model of economic development, becoming an advanced, modern economy ranking 3rd globally in terms of GDP per capita. Singapore is predicted to continue growing relatively rapidly compared to similarly wealthy countries and it is expected to rise further up the per capita income Economic Freedom. But it faces its own unique set of challenges – squeezed by an ageing population on the one hand and increasing political sensitivities over immigration into the world’s second-most densely populated country (after Monaco) on the other.
Most work in Singapore is in the service sector and poverty levels are low compared to other countries in the region. Singapore has the world’s highest percentage of millionaire households. Tourism forms a large part of the economy with over ten million visitors each year. Gambling has been legalised and the country’s casino resorts have proved popular destinations.
Singapore also offers competitive income tax rates, various financial assistance schemes and tax incentives to attract and assist companies to grow their businesses.