Singapore markets itself as a “dynamic, global city” and is
consistently ranked as one of the world’s easiest places to do business (Doing
Business 2010 report) with its global connectivity, multicultural and
cosmopolitan environment. With the rebound in the global economy, the Singapore
economy expanded by 15.5 percent on a year-on-year basis in Q1 2010. GDP for
2010 is expected to be between 7 percent to 9 percent.
Singapore has built on its advantageous geographical
location to transform itself into one of the world’s top transportation centers
for air and sea cargo, Changi International Airport offering links to 182
cities in 57 countries and Singapore’s ports offering 200 shipping lines with
links to more than 600 ports in 123 countries.
In the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness
Report 2009–2010, Singapore climbed two positions to third place overall,
behind only the United States in second place and Switzerland in top spot, and
ranking top in the institutions, goods market efficiency and labor market
efficiency indexes and second for financial markets sophistication. Singapore
has a per capita GDP of approximately US$39,000, comparable to the UK, France,
Germany and Italy and enjoys a relatively low unemployment rate of 2.2 percent
(as at March 2010).
A leading provider of international banking, trade finance,
maritime finance, insurance, treasury operations and asset and wealth
management within Asia, Singapore is the fourth-largest foreign exchange
trading center in the world. Foreign investors in Singapore can tap into the
country’s network of over 50 comprehensive double taxation agreements, free
trade agreements (including with major economies such as the United States,
Japan, Australia, members of the European Free Trade Association, China and
India) and investment guarantee agreements as well as benefiting from
Singapore’s excellent business infrastructure, rule of law and protection of
free trade policies and intellectual property. The Political and Economic Risk
Consultancy consistently ranks Singapore as one of the least corrupt countries
in the world to do business.
Tax rates are highly competitive and the Singapore
government has developed numerous pro-investment initiatives aimed at promoting
Singapore as a regional and global hub for both inbound and outbound investment
activities. An open immigration policy, assisted by an efficient immigration
pass system, allows companies based in Singapore to attract talent from
anywhere in the world. Of the estimated 5 million residents in Singapore,
approximately 25 percent are foreign nationals.
With its British colonial roots, Singapore is a republic
with a parliamentary system of government based on the Westminster model
comprising the executive, the cabinet and the judiciary. Members of Parliament
are elected by general election every five years. At the last election in 2006,
the People’s Action Party (which has governed Singapore since its independence
in 1965) secured 82 seats with opposition parties winning two seats.