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Doing Business in Singapore

Market Overview

The Singapore economy expanded by 2.0% in 2015 and real GDP is forecasted to grow between 1.0% and 3.0% in 2016. Foreign investments, combined with investments through government-linked corporations, underpin Singapore's open, heavily trade-dependent economy.  U.S. exports to Singapore totaled $28.7 billion in 2015, down 5.2% and U.S. imports from Singapore rose 10.8% to $18.2 billion. China was Singapore’s top source of imports, followed by the United States, Malaysia, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Germany, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. 
In 2016, the U.S. and Singapore commemorated 50 years of formal bilateral relations.  Trade between the U.S. and Singapore has continued to expand, thanks to one of the most successful FTAs on record, reaching $47 billion in 2015. Singapore was the United States’ 13th largest export market and 17thlargest trading partner in 2015.  It is a U.S. partner in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, with 10 other Asia-Pacific countries. The TPP agreement –concluded in October 2015 and signed in February 2016 – will significantly liberalize trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific and advance U.S. economic interests in some of the fastest growing economies in the world.
Singapore has been ranked #1 in the world for ease of doing business since 2003 by the World Bank. Five reasons U.S. companies should consider exporting to Singapore are:

  • Major distribution and logistics hub and gateway to the ASEAN region
  • Lack of corruption
  • Favorable tax codes
  • Strong intellectual property protection
  • English speaking population

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Market Challenges

Singapore is generally a free port as more than 99% of all imports enter Singapore duty-free. For social and/or environmental reasons, it levies high excise taxes on distilled spirits and wine, tobacco products, motor vehicles, and gasoline. Competing with global suppliers remains a key challenge for American companies. With the ongoing restructuring of Singapore’s economy, U.S. companies doing business in the country can expect increased operating costs and a continued tightening labor market.

U.S. companies also face technical import barriers for beef, pork and poultry products, and restrictions on satellite dishes and foreign newspapers. Service barriers include pay television, licensing of online news websites, legal services, banking and healthcare industries. Details on the barriers can be found in the USTR 2016 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers available online at

The next 50 years will present new challenges to Singapore in the form of a maturing economy, growing influence of social media and increasing competition from other trade agreements and ASEAN partners.

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Market Opportunities

U.S. exporters will find a promising market for the following industry sectors in Singapore: aircraft and parts, medical devices, environmental control equipment, computer hardware, software & peripherals, telecommunication equipment, laboratory and scientific equipment, oil & gas, semiconductors, industrial automation and education.

The following are major infrastructure projects, significant government procurements and business opportunities in Singapore:

$500 million second Liquid National Gas (LNG) terminal is being planned;

$150 million Very Large Floating Structure (VLFS) tender is postponed to the second half of 2016 due to the downturn in the oil and gas sector;

$580 million blueprint to grow the clean energy industry in Singapore;

Construction of a new 300-bed hospital for infectious disease slated for completion by 2018 and a new $135 million National Heart Center Building by 2020;

Construction of up to 25 public nursing homes by 2020, and four public acute medical care hospitals and up to 12 polyclinics by 2030;

Private medical groups will spend more than $406 million to build, expand and upgrade their healthcare facilities. Renovations at the Raffles Hospital are expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2017

Construction of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 and Terminal 5;

$2.6 billion Phase 3 and 4 port expansion at Pasir Panjang Terminal;

The national water agency, the Public Utilities Board (PUB), has been expanding the water infrastructure over the years and is still forging ahead with further developments. Areas of particular interest include filtering and purifying machinery and apparatus, technologies involving wastewater recycling and treatment, and desalination technologies;

$2.0 billion of Singapore Government ICT tenders in the Financial Year 2016 (April 2016-March 2017).

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Market Entry Strategy

Many U.S. exporters successfully use agents or distributors to serve the Singapore and other Southeast Asia markets while over 3,700 U.S. firms have set up operations in the country. Singapore firms are aggressive when it comes to representing new products and usually respond enthusiastically to new opportunities.

Price, quality and service are the three main factors for Singapore buyers. U.S. exporters should be aware that competition is strong and buyers expect good after-sales service. Selling techniques vary according to the industry and product and are comparable to the techniques used in most other sophisticated markets. It is also important for U.S. firms to visit their representatives and maintain close contact with them.

Market Overview
  • ICT Sector in Singapore
Market Overview on ICT sector in Singapore

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  If the page does not appear in 5 seconds, please click this: outside web site is managed by the International Trade Administration and external links are covered by its website disclaimer statement.