Singapore: The Gateway to ASEAN Business Expansion

By DP SME Advisory

ASEAN is the fifth largest economy global1 with the total population of 649.1 million1 and a rapidly growing middle class. With its strategic location in the confluence of major trade routes, US$5.3 trillion of global trade passing through ASEAN each year2.

As one of the founding members of ASEAN, Singapore with its economic stability and business-friendly environment, making it an ideal gateway for SMEs and MNCs to expand and springboard to other emerging markets in the ASEAN region. Furthermore, Singapore is one of the most open trading nations in the world with 25 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs)3 including the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).


Growth Trends for Singapore

Singapore's largest industry by far is the manufacturing sector, which contributes 20%-25% of the country's annual GDP. Key industry clusters in Singapore's manufacturing include electronics, chemicals, biomedical sciences, logistics and transport engineering10.

However, Singapore’s Economic Development Board highlights Singapore’s competitive edge in three major business functions: Manufacturing, Headquarters, and Innovation.

Over a third of Fortune 500 companies have their Asia-headquarters in Singapore, and innovation is driven by support from the government and its partnerships with the private sector. S$19bn is slated to be invested in the country’s R&D capabilities, enterprise innovation and entrepreneurship from 2016-202011.

Despite the economic impact from the COVID-19 crisis, Singapore has secured S$13bn in investment commitments from January to April 202012, reflecting the sustained confidence from major investors and businesses on Singapore’s crucial role in their business expansion.


Why start up a business in Singapore?

As one of the easiest places to do business, setting up in Singapore is seamless and efficient.


Digital Infrastructure

Listed as world second most digital competitive country13, Singapore’s digital connectivity is well suited for business ecosystems to develop new partnership and opportunities in the post-pandemic digital economy. As Singapore starts the deployment of 5G networks in 2020, 5G coverage expected to extend across at least half of Singapore by end of 2022.


With unparalleled connectivity, both physically - in 2018, Changi Airport was ranked the most connected airport in Asia, with flights to 400 cities worldwide14 – and digitally - the world’s “most network-ready” country15, Singapore has one of the world’s leading national ultra-high-speed fibre infrastructure. It’s also home to more than 90% of Fortune 1000 technology companies10.

Professional Services & Financial Hub

Professional services firms thrive in Singapore and support its vibrant business community. Over 4,500 companies provide various services such as audit, accounting, management advisory, market research, marketing and public relations, manpower services and legal services. As a key international financial hub, Singapore has more than 500 local and foreign financial institutions providing quality financial services. Investors can also tap on Singapore’s dynamic capital market16.


With the high density of headquarters, centres of excellence, research centres, and a vibrant start-up ecosystem, Singapore provides ample partnership opportunities to support innovative solutions. There are hundreds of incubators, accelerators, investors and venture capitalists to support the start-up community, along with the Government’s own incentives and grants for young companies. Singapore has also been awarded first in Asia for Best Protection of IP17.

Human Capital

Recognised as the Best Country for Developing Human Capital18, with a literacy rate of 97%17 and renowned educational institutions, Singapore is home to professionals who are well-placed to meet the world-class knowledge needs across any industry.


How DP SME Advisory can help.

Thinking about starting, developing or growing a business in Singapore? For one-stop convenience, DP SME Advisory helps local and foreign entrepreneurs start their business in Singapore with the greatest ease, in the shortest period of time and in the most informed manner.


Since our inception in 2001, we’ve provided assistance to more than 150,000 local and foreign business owners and entrepreneurs.

We fill a gap where business owners need a reliable, comprehensive and trusted source to start and grow their business with a depth and breadth of services that cater to their business ambitions.


Contact us to find out more:

DP SME Advisory – Jason Seah, Assistant Director, SME Advisory

T: +65 9878 6801



1. ASEAN Key Figures 2019,ASEAN Secretariat, October 2019 | 2. “ASEAN Matters for America”, East-West Center Publication, 2014 | 3. Enterprise Singapore website | 4. Singapore Department of Statistics website | 5. World Bank Data, 2018 | 6. Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS), “Singapore to Offer World's Fastest Patent Application-to-Grant for Artificial Intelligence Inventions”, 26 April 2019 | 7. Ministry of Finance, Singapore Budget 2019, Budget Speech | 8. Deutsche Post DHL Group, DHL Global Connectedness Index 2018 | 9. IRAS, Tax Treatment of Business Expenses (Q - R). Accessed 14 February 2020 | 10. “The Singapore Advantage” Brochure, Enterprise Singapore, 2017 | 11. “RIE2020 Plan”, Singapore Government National Research Foundation, 2016 | 12. The Business Times, Singapore 30 May 2020 | 13. IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2019 | 14. “World’s Top 50 Most-Connected Airports”, OAG, 2018 | 15. World Economic Forum’s Network Readiness Index (NRI), 2016 | 16. Economic Development Board Website | 17. World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, 2018 | 18. “2018 Human Capital Index”, World Bank, 2018.