Sir Stamford Raffles clearly made the right decision when he established a British trading post on an island off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula in 1819. In 2014, US-based research institute BERI ranked Singapore first out of 50 major global investment destinations in a ranking that assessed operational, political and currency risks.
The British obtained sovereignty over the island in 1824 and Singapore became one of the British Straits Settlements in 1826. Singapore gained independence from the UK in 1963 and united with other former British territories to form Malaysia, from which it was expelled two years later through a unanimous act of parliament. Singapore has since developed rapidly and is now one of the world’s major commercial hubs, with the fourth-biggest financial centre and one of the five busiest ports.
Singapore is a now republic with a parliamentary system of government based on the Westminster model. The head of state is the president, who is elected for a fixed term of six years. The parliament is elected by general election every five years. The People’s Action Party has won every election since self-government began in 1959. The current Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, has been in office since 2004. Singapore is recognised for its high government efficiency, competitiveness, world-class infrastructure and leading financial market developments. Robust legal and regulatory regimes make it the most transparent country in Asia and the most stable business environment.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore [MAS] is the central bank of Singapore and has responsibility for monetary policy, management of foreign exchange reserves and regulation of the banking, securities, futures, trustee companies and insurance sectors. It is also responsible for the development and promotion of Singapore as an international financial centre. The local currency is the Singapore dollar, which is equivalent to approximately US$0.80. Singapore does not have any exchange controls.
Singapore’s globalised and diversified economy depends heavily on trade, especially manufacturing, which accounted for around 30% of Singapore’s GDP in 2013. With no restrictions on the repatriation of profits and the import of capital, along with the most favourable operating conditions, Singapore’s stable political and economic climate creates an ideal environment for investment.
On top of the comprehensive network of double tax treaties with more than 80 countries, Singapore has one of the lowest corporate tax rates (17%) in Asia Pacific. The robust regulatory framework coupled with a stable political democratic structure and a well-established judicial system endorses good corporate governance practices making Singapore a strategic financial investment hub.
Singapore has the third-highest per capita income in the world and places highly in international rankings with regard to education, healthcare, and economic competitiveness. Approximately 5.4 million people live in Singapore (June 2013), of which about 2 million are foreign-born. There are four official languages – English, Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil – but English is the language of business, government, as well as being the medium of instruction in schools.
Singapore is a member of the British Commonwealth, United Nations, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), WTO, the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), World Bank, Asean Development Bank, IMF, the Financial Action Task Force and the Financial Stability Forum.
Monetary Authority of Singapore – www.mas.gov.sg/
Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority Singapore (ACRA) – www.acra.gov.sg
Singapore Economic Development Board – www.edb.gov.sg