Singapore is the sixth easiest place to do business in Asia according to a new report by TMF Group, a leading provider of international administrative services.
The Global Business Complexity Index, which compares key administrative and
compliance demands across 76 jurisdictions worldwide, found only Thailand, South
Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan provided a more straightforward environment for
firms looking to expand and establish themselves internationally.
The city-state was ranked considerable higher than other commercially attractive
countries in the region like India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Mainland China and
Kim Leng Siaw, TMF Group’s Managing Director for Singapore, said: “For overseas companies and investors, a country’s simplicity or complexity is an important but often-overlooked factor. And Singapore scores well on this scale. The pro-business policies, its connectivity within Southeast Asia and across the globe, and its highly skilled workforce give it a strong competitive advantage. Firms know that if they set up in Singapore, they can get work done easily.”
The report ranks worldwide jurisdictions by how simple or complicated they are to do
business. It measures factors such as rules regulations and penalties, the difficulty of
accounting and tax, and the difficulty of hiring, firing and paying staff.
It found the cost of starting a business in Singapore was low. In particular, the
jurisdiction’s “Know Your Client” due diligence requirements are clear and transparent,
avoiding some of the bureaucratic obstacles the process entails elsewhere in the world.
However, not everything about the Singaporean business environment was simple.
Singapore is among the minority (30 percent) of jurisdictions worldwide reporting that the responsibilities of the directors and officers of companies have increased over the last three years. 27 percent said the amount of responsibilities will increase in the next 5 years.
Likewise, Singapore has introduced regulatory changes such as the requirement to
maintain registers of beneficial owners and registers of nominee directors.
The mandatory “Know Your Client” due diligence checks may slow down the process of
incorporating companies and opening bank accounts. Complexity increases with the
compulsory use of CorpPass as the only login method for online corporate transactions
with government authorities as well as the recent changes to Singapore Employment Act in April 2019.
Kim added: “Almost all the changes we have seen in Singapore have
justifications, but even so they represent new challenges for the businesses who must
comply with them. Overall, however, the benefits of doing business in Singapore will
continue to outweigh the disadvantages.”
Beyond Singapore, the Cayman Islands ranked as the least complex country for
business complexity in the world, followed by Curaçao, Jersey and Thailand. Greece
topped the overall list for business complexity, followed by Indonesia, Brazil and the
The Global Business Complexity Index – the full rankings
04 United Arab Emirates
11 El Salvador
30 South Africa
31 Costa Rica
43 United Kingdom
48 Czech Republic
56 Hong Kong
63 Dominican Republic
64 New Zealand
66 United States
68 British Virgin Islands
76 Cayman Islands