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Singapore: Gateway to Asia, Gateway to Gainful Business Opportunities

Singapore: Gateway to Asia, Gateway to Gainful Business Opportunities
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Singapore is a country with many peculiar characteristics that lure entrepreneurs, tourists, immigrants, international students, and many other groups of spectators from all over the world.  Singapore is a very small country with a total population of about 5 million, “but leader in several economic areas.”  According to Wikipedia, Singapore is “the world’s fourth leading financial centre,the world’s second-biggest casino gambling market,one of the world’s top three oil refining centres, the world’s largest oil-rig producer, and a major ship-repairer.The port is one of the five busiest ports in the world.The World Bank has named Singapore as the easiest place in the world to do business,and ranks Singapore the world’s top logistics hub. It is also the world’s fourth largest foreign-exchange trading centre after London, New York and Tokyo” (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore).

Singapore’s main attraction, however, does not lie on its robust economy and obsession to modernization and artificiality, but in its rich historical legacy.  About five decades ago, Singapore was a quiet, laid back country of dwellers from highly diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. The population is highly diverse; the majority are Chinese, with Malays and Indians forming significant minorities. Reflecting this diversity, the country has four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore).  After a relatively short span of 50 years,  however, Singapore “has risen from a poor developing country, to an economic giant” (James Wiffen. “The Miracle of Asia (Part 1) – Singapore Documentary ”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRvbrzIyV9E.)

Just how Singapore became one of the four strongest economic leaders in Southeast Asia in a relatively short span of time has amazed many.  Singapore today is “a highly developed market-based economy, based historically on extended entrepôt trade.  Along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the original Four Asian Tigers” . . . In terms of purchasing power parity, Singapore has the third highest per capita income in the world. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore).

The rise of Singapore is attributed by many observers and experts to different factors.  Following are excerpts from documentary videos and/or written articles from various sources linked to Singapore’s astonishing economic success:

Cultural Diversity/Religion

Both native Singaporeans, and also foreign workers who have relocated there . . . have been the key to the country’s success. Singapore is a melting pot of different cultures, and this is highlighted in the film, by focusing on people from all nationalities, and all walks of life, and how they work together in unity, and harmony.  (James Wiffen. The Miracle of Asia (Part 1) – Singapore Documentary. Video presentation. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xRvbrzIyV9E)

One of the many things that makes working in Singapore a uniquely enriching experience is the number of different cultures that one finds working together, particularly in the large MNC’s. There are many cities that are more cosmopolitan than Singapore – London for instance apparently has over 250 languages spoken on a daily basis. In terms of people working closely together however it is not, in my opinion, as multi cultured as Singapore. When one has so many different people from different countries communicating and work together it is important to understand how the different cultures may see each other and to be aware of the “cultural minefield” that may exist within a large organization. (Chris Fenney, Co-founder and Director of Training Edge International. “Managing Cultural Diversity in Singapore”. http://sbr.com.sg/leisure-entertainment/commentary/managing-cultural-diversity-in-singapore).

INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

Conducive Political Environment

What makes Singapore unique and attractive to investors remains fundamentally unchanged – Political stability, low crime rates, educated & hard striving workforce and remain open & connected to the international business community. (Kelvin Chung. Making Singapore a shinier red dot. http://sbr.com.sg/economy/commentary/making-singapore-shinier-red-dot)

Wikipedia affirms that

“The Singaporean economy is known as one of the freest, most innovative, most competitive, and most business-friendly.

Singapore as the second freest economy in the world, behind Hong Kong. According to the Corruption Perceptions Index, Singapore is consistently ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, along with New Zealand and the Scandinavian countries”

Singapore attracts a lot of foreign direct investment because of its location, corruption-free environment, skilled workforce, low tax rates and advanced infrastructure. There are more than 7,000 multinational corporations from the United States, Japan, and Europe in Singapore. There are also 1,500 companies from China and 1,500 from India. Foreign firms are found in almost all sectors of the economy.Singapore is also the second largest foreign investor in India.Roughly 44 percent of the Singaporean workforce is made up of non-Singaporeans. Over ten free trade agreements have been signed with other countries and regions. (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore).

Tax Rate

The Singapore tax system, meanwhile, continues to be one of the most attractive in the world. Despite its status as an open, business-friendly economy with world-class infrastructure, the country maintains one of the relatively lowest tax rates in the world.

The highest possible individual income tax rate in Singapore is 20%, which applies to those earning over S$320,000 a year. This compared to an individual in New York earning US$300,000 a year, who would be subject to 33% in federal income tax plus an additional 7.85% in state income tax – and that’s not even counting the impending tax hikes when in 2013.

Singapore corporate taxes are very low, too. In order to make the country attractive to investors and global companies, the government has continued to lower its fixed corporate tax rate. The rate, which was 26% in 2000, is now at 17%. There is no capital gains tax, which makes it ideal for financial traders and investors. (Attractive Singapore Tax Regime Stands Out amid Rising Rates Globally.

On November 14, 2012, in Singapore Taxeshttp://www.guidemesingapore.com/blog-post/singapore-taxes/attractive-singapore-tax-regime)

Education

Singaporean students consistently rank in the top five in the world in the two major international assessments of mathematics and science knowledge. Singaporean students were ranked first in the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement and have been ranked top three every year since 1995 (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore).

Striving Work Force

What makes Singapore unique and attractive to investors remains fundamentally unchanged – Political stability, low crime rates, educated & hard striving workforce and remain open & connected to the international business community (http://sbr.com.sg/economy/commentary/making-singapore-shinier-red-dot).

 Transport

Singapore is a major international transport hub in Asia, positioned on many sea and air trade routes. The Port of Singapore, managed by port operators PSA International and Jurong Port, was the world’s second-busiest port in 2005 in terms of shipping tonnage handled, at 1.15 billion gross tons, and in terms of containerised traffic, at 23.2 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs). It is also the world’s second-busiest, behind Shanghai, in terms of cargo tonnage with 423 million tons handled. In addition, the port is the world’s busiest for transshipment traffic and the world’s biggest ship refuelling centre. (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore).

 

Foreign Relations

Singapore’s foreign policy is directed to maintaining a secure environment in Southeast Asia as well as the surrounding territories. An underlying principle is political and economic stability in the region.[66] It has diplomatic relations with 175 other sovereign states.[97] As one of the five founding members of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN),[98] the country is a strong supporter of theASEAN Free Trade Area and the ASEAN Investment Area, because Singapore’s economic growth is closely linked with the economic progress of the region as a whole. (Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore).

Tourism

Tourism also forms a large part of the economy, and 10.2 million tourists visited the country in 2007. Singapore is promoting itself as a medical tourism hub: about 200,000 foreigners seek medical care there each year, and Singapore medical services aim to serve one million foreign patients annually by 2012 and generate USD 3 billion in revenue.Singapore is an education hub, and many foreign students study in Singapore. Singapore hosted over 80,000 international students in 2006.There are also more than 5000 Malaysian students who cross the Johor–Singapore Causeway every morning with hopes of receiving a better education in Singapore. In 2009, 20% of all students in Singaporean universities were international students. The students were mainly from ASEAN, China and India. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tourism_in_Singapore)

The cultural diversity, rich heritage and exotic natural legacy of Singapore attract hordes of tourists every year, with the result that tourism has become one of the major industries there. Apart from being a great shopping destination, the country also boasts of numerous venues for art lovers, magnificent islands, picturesque beaches and opportunities to see nature in its wild and true form. The cuisine of Singapore is luscious and its night life, totally pulsating. Read on to get some fun and interesting facts on Singapore (Places to visit in Singapore. http://www.tripadvisor.in/Attractions-g294265-Activities-Singapore.html).

Singapore teaches us that economic success does not happen overnight but it is not something beyond reach.  She gives us the basic reminder that unity amidst diversity, hard work, education, good governance, religious devotion, international relations, clinging to cultural values are the strongholds that keep a country strong and progressive.

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