Singapore ranks as one of the top financial services centres in the world. Fuelled by a hard-working, ambitious and well-educated population, this is a world-class business environment with a global reputation.

Covid-19 latest information

This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in Singapore. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in August 2020.


Welcome to Singapore

Supported by excellent infrastructure and superior transport systems, this world leader in digital connectivity and transformation is a real Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) success story.

HSBC’s history in Singapore dates back to 1877 when The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited opened its first branch on the island. One of the earliest banks to set up in Singapore, HSBC is today a prominent player in the financial services sector.

Singapore is currently rated as the second easiest place in the world to do business by the World Bank. HSBC’s long-established heritage positions us well to help businesses take advantage of this alongside opportunities in the emerging economies of ASEAN to which Singapore provides the perfect gateway.

Please get in touch to find out how HSBC can help your business thrive in this market.

Head office address: 21 Collyer Quay, HSBC Building, Singapore 049320


5.6 million1
700 sq km
Main languages
English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil
Singapore Dollar (SGD)
Dialling code
USD55,235 per capita1
Top exports
Machinery and equipment, chemicals, mineral fuels, manufactured goods, pharmaceuticals, electronics, non-electric engines and motors, foodstuffs, and consumer goods1
Top imports
Machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, chemicals, gems and precious metals, foodstuffs, and consumer goods1
Unemployment rate
Corporation tax
Typical office hours
9.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday and 9.00am to 1.00pm on Saturday
Time zone
UTC +8
Emergency numbers
999 (police), 995 (fire and ambulance services)

1 Singapore Government, 2019
2 Trading Economics, 2019
3 PwC, 2019

All indices represent the latest 2019 rankings

Singapore: The world’s only island-city-country


# 2

for ease of doing business (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)

  • A Southeast Asian hub

    This city-state is located where major East and West shipping lanes converge. It’s one of Asia’s largest trading hubs and a super-connected, business-friendly country.

  • Access to global population

    Half of the world’s population is within a six-hour flight of Singapore, making it an excellent location for those expanding into emerging economies of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Southeast Asia is home to 630 million people.

  • Triple-A rated financial powerhouse

    Singapore is the only Asian nation to receive an AAA credit rating from all three major credit agencies. It’s also the fourth largest financial centre in the world, with strong institutions and prudent economic management.

  • One of the richest global cities

    It has one of the highest per capita incomes in Asia-Pacific, greater than most developed countries including many in Europe and North America.

  • Strong, open business climate

    This city-state’s economy works extremely well and it ranks highly in many business indices. The country works hard to ensure it operates efficiently and it also has one of the most liberal trading regimes in the world.

Country profile

Consistently ranked as one of the easiest countries in the world to do business by the World Bank, Singapore is a top destination for multinationals. A highly skilled population and world-class infrastructure add to its appeal, positioning Singapore as a leading financial and commercial centre.

With a unique blend of cultures, this city-state is now one of the world’s richest nations at the heart of a booming region. Singapore’s modern and efficient approach continues to make it highly attractive for foreign investment.

Globally renowned for being safe, orderly and clean, Singapore also boasts low taxes and a stable government in addition to a corruption-free, pro-business environment.

An impressive education system including a variety of local and international schools, alongside the busiest port in the world, make Singapore a perfect English-speaking gateway to the ASEAN market.

Leading the way in the region when it comes to digital connectivity, Singapore is Asia’s most ‘network-ready’ location.

Read on to discover more about the dos and don’ts of doing business in Singapore. Also find out how trading in or with the country could help boost the future growth of your enterprise.

5 reasons to do business in the Singapore1

  1. Focal point for Asian trade
    Singapore’s reach stretches from East to West, with an in-depth knowledge of many markets including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and beyond.
  2. Free port, free trade
    There is free flow of goods and capital, and the city-state is right in the middle of one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, the Straits of Malacca. Its tax rates and tax laws are also competitive.
  3. World-class, English-speaking, pro-business economy1 
    This is an English-speaking economy with a world-class reputation as a place to do business. There is a smooth-running bureaucracy and a vibrant SME sector.
  4. Stable environment, low corruption1
    Singapore is the only nation among the world’s richest countries never to have changed its ruling party. It has very little crime and one of the world’s lowest corruption rates.
  5. Strong protection for IP
    This is one of the best places in the world to protect your ideas and innovations, thanks to Singapore's strict enforcement of its robust intellectual property laws.

5 key challenges2

  1. 1

    Vulnerable to global markets

    Singapore is an open economy, which makes it vulnerable to global super-cycles. This can also leave the country exposed to the economic fluctuations of its big trading partners, namely China and the US.

  2. 2

    Labour shortage

    High wages, a rapidly ageing population and labour shortages are prevalent in Singapore, which can have an impact on businesses.

  3. 3

    Small domestic market

    A limited domestic market means businesses in Singapore may need to look further afield to achieve long-term sustainable growth.

  4. 4

    Cost of doing business

    Singapore’s operating and living costs keep edging upwards, especially in contrast to neighbouring Indonesia and Malaysia. This is a rewarding yet costly place to do business.

  5. 5

    Cultural diversity

    Singapore places emphasis on the importance of developing strong relationships. In order to build these up, international organisations should ensure an appreciation and understanding of the cultural diversity of Singaporean society.