A Guide to DoingBusiness in Singapore


Market Overview

Singapore is not just one of the most advanced free-market economies within the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), it is also one of the most politically stable countries in Asia.

While Singapore’s domestic market is relatively small, a high-level of state intervention in the economy has powered the city state’s growth and positioned it as Southeast Asia’s most attractive destination for regional corporate headquarters. This has also been aided by a regulatory environment which is not only pro-business and free trade but also committed to ongoing optimisation.

Singapore is a favourable gateway for Irish exporters into the nine other members of ASEAN – Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei. With a population of 661.8 million, the scale of ASEAN’s marketplace – almost US$2.6 trillion in gross domestic output in 2016 – is matched only by the diversity of its economies.

Number 2 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index

5.8m Population

2.9% Predicted Economic Growth for 2019

Get Export Ready

With the opening of T4 in 2017, the capacity of Changi Airport has expanded to 82 million and plans are afoot to grow that to 132 million with the opening of T5 by the end of the decade. With about 95% of Singapore’s electricity generated using imported natural gas, solutions to increase energy efficiency are always in demand.

Singapore’s five key areas under Smart Sustainable Cities initiatives are: infrastructure, built environment, clean energy, water & environment, and urban mobility. Singapore’s ‘Smart Nation and Digital Government Office’ supports the nation’s Smart Nation programme designed to harness digital technologies. Also, Singapore has the fastest 4G speed in the world.

Key Market Sectors

As Brexit plans progress, Irish businesses are exploring export options in sectors across the Eurozone markets, the USA and Canada and the APAC region.

Enterprise Ireland is playing a key role in supporting ambitious companies seeking opportunities in Singapore’s aerospace, aviation and traveltech sectors.

Additionally, construction, cleantech, fintech, medtech, healthcare, Internet of Things and telecomms continue to perform and add appeal to Irish exporters and service providers who want to scale and develop a presence in the Singaporean market.

Read more on Singapore’s sectoral successes in our Going Global Guide.

  • Singapore ranks number 2 in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index.
  • Singapore’s GDP Per Capita stood at USD $57,714 in 2017, ranking 1st in the IMD World Competitiveness Ranking 2019.
  • Singapore ranks 1st in Asia for both intellectual property protection and higher education and training

Doing Business

Singapore’s English dominated business environment and business-friendly legal and tax systems give Irish companies at every stage of development the opportunity to establish a business presence in Singapore at relatively low risk before expanding their operations elsewhere in the region.

Modesty and humility are key values in Singapore, therefore it is important not to “over-sell” during initial meetings with Singaporean counterparts.

The decision-making process in Singapore is done collectively and up through the hierarchy. Thus, it may take more time than you may be used to.

Best Routes to Market

Choosing the right route to market is very important.

Agents bring a deep understanding of local business practices and distributors can deliver products geographically across large nations. Joint ventures and acquisitions bring valuable established contacts, customers and market knowledge.

Local representatives may not always be necessary with many global markets open to direct sales and prospecting from Ireland. Other markets require a ‘boots on the ground’ approach – the power of referrals and networking shouldn’t be underestimated.

The key routes to market in Singapore are direct sales, third party distribution, joint ventures or establishing a local office. Download our Going Global Guide to Singapore to find out more.

Before You Go

Before you go, we recommend you invest some time in researching the terrain before you explore the Singapore market. Here’s a few starting points to consider…

  1. Market Landscape
  2. Market Trends
  3. Target Market
  4. Market Segmentation
  5. Market Competition
  6. Market Research Resources

Visa requirements, Singapore’s labour laws, import rules and regulations, key taxes, and data and intellectual property protection are also addressed in the Going Global Guide.

Enterprise Ireland’s Market Research Centre offers client companies access to market intelligence in the form of company, sector, market, and country information to explore opportunities and compete in international markets.

Helping You Succeed

We are committed to helping you succeed in global markets and have an immense wealth of knowledge and expertise in the Singapore market.

Enterprise Ireland assists clients entering new markets with pre-visit support, in-market support, international trade events, additional supports and access to mentors.

Our Market Advisers are always available to support you and provide business expertise and on-the-ground knowledge.

Kevin Ryan


00 65 6804 9380

Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam
Tan Siew Hwa


00 65 6804 9380

Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam
Tiarnan McCaughan


00 65 6804 9380

Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam
Isobel Walton


00 65 6804 9380

Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam
Justin Egan


00 65 6804 9380

Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam
Jannine Viray


00 65 6804 9380