things not to do in singapore

things not to do in singapore - Best Place to Travel

- welcome to singapore, the economic jewel of southeast asia. i'm tim harcourt, the airport economist, and i'm going to showyou how to do business in this dynamic city state.


things not to do in singapore

things not to do in singapore, singapore's a global financial center, a regional trade and logistics hub, plus a significanteconomy in its own right. it's one of the easiestplaces to operate in asia

with english as an official language, few barriers to entry, and a strong, pro-businesslegal framework. singapore is clean, efficient,and it's air-conditioned. what's not to love? coming up one of thecity's leading executives explains why singapore is suchan easy place to do business. we discover the city's emergingstart-up and tech scene, and learn how singapore is a great base

to access the southeast asian market. singapore is located on thetip of the malay peninsula, across from indonesia,between the south china sea and the indian ocean. there's a population ofjust 5 1/2 million people but it churns out gdp ofaround $300 billion us dollars, making it the 39th biggesteconomy in the world. on a per capita basis, singapore is ranked seventh in the world,

not bad for a tiny city state with no natural resources or agricultural land. singapore's economy is growingat just over 2% a year. there's barely any inflation,and unemployment is only 2%. so what's the secret? singapore woos overseas investors, welcomes foreign trade, andis strategically located on major trade routes in and out of asia. its changi airport isa global aviation hub,

and ranked the best airportin the world by skytrax. it has almost 7,000 flightsa week to 80 countries. it's also one of the world'sbusiest air cargo hubs, transporting goods likeelectrical components. shipping is also bigbusiness in singapore. its port handles half theworld's crude oil supply, and a fifth of all shipping containers. the port is a vital asset, as singapore has to import

most of its food and natural resources. the country's top trading partners are china, the us, and malaysia. the world bank has ranked singapore as the world's easiestplace to do business for the past 10 years, and it's the second-mostcompetitive economy in the world, according to the world economic forum. pretty impressive.

i spoke to anz bank'ssingapore ceo to find out why singapore is so special. - it's well located inan important region, in terms of its proximityto other markets. has great connectivity globally. from a physical perspective,obviously, it's a major hub for shipping and airlines,so it's attracted a lot of logistics activities in the region. there's been a real focus on technology,

so there's fantastic connectivity here both within singapore and globally. we have a strong, stable government, that's business-friendly. we have a market that'svery attractive for labor, so it's a real centre ofexcellence for many skills. - [tim] do you find thatthis market only suits the top end of town, or do you think other small and medium-sized businesses

in various industries can succeed here? - i think there's a very broad opportunity in this market, fromsmall through to large. we've seen many great success stories across a wide range of industries. there's some industries that are obvious and have been here for some time, but there's many emerging opportunities, for instance, in the health tech space,

for instance, education. agriculture is somethingthat is of great importance to this region and singaporeis at the heart of that as a commodity trading centre. if you want to get involved in asia, singapore's a great placeto start that journey. - in general, do businessesset up in singapore to service indonesia, andmalaysia, and thailand? or, if you had a business that

had a factory or an office in indonesia, wouldn't you just go straight there? why would you use singapore necessarily? - so, establishing yourselfin singapore as a base, i guess you, particularly for smaller businesses, it gives you theopportunity to create scale, rather than spreading your resources around a range of markets.

operating from singaporeallows you to have a range of activities andexplore those markets, from a strong location. - [tim] the anz opportunityasia report shows that australian businesses inasia are far more profitable and have better growth prospects than their domestically-focused peers. can your business really afford not to consider theopportunities that asia presents?

read the anz opportunityasia on thesbhub.com.au. south australia's cafetto makes cleaning productsfor coffee machines. it chose singapore forits regional headquarters and, with the help of anz, has expanded throughout the region. - i think singapore'sgot a lot of advantages for a company in australia. the first thing we discovered was

how difficult it was to be exporting our products into asia without some local presence. people wanted to deal with local people. they wanted to be able to handle their transactions locally. we needed to provide some mechanism by which people could do that. singapore's got the lovely advantage that

english is the prime language, and so for an adelaide company, it was relatively easy to get to, compared to other places. - so you'd say it's been an easy process, exporting to singapore,having a regional hub there? - i think singapore is a verygood place to do business, for an australian company. i think the businesspractices in singapore,

the structure, the legal structure, to be able to set up a companyis very straightforward. there's no surprises there. it's a very open economy,which makes it very simple for us to do business, and then of course, itreally is a regional hub for southeast asia. - where there any particular challenges in setting up in singapore?

- the only thing is that it's obviously a more expensive country todo your logistics from, in terms of warehousing, and that sort of operation, but i think the othertransactional costs make it, compensate for that, whichmakes it very simple. the costs of doing businessare very, very low, compared to other places,and very few surprises. - singapore has a diverse history,

with chinese, malay,indian, and european roots. a small fishing village and trading port colonised by the british, and then flattened in world war ii. in just 50 years, singapore developed from the ruins of japaneseoccupation to one of the world's most sophisticated financial powerhouses. here's its amazing story. singapore was first known as temasek,

which means, sea town. it was an ancient tradingport for the chinese, the portuguese, and the arabs. the british beat the dutch as colonists, and sir raffles claimedsingapore for the empire in the early 1800s. over the followingcentury, also it developed as a trading hub and financial centre as banks and commerce wereestablished in the city.

singapore sufferedgreatly in world war ii. the empire's asian fortress fell in a surprise attack in early 1942. it was the largest surrenderof a british force in history. the people's action party wonthe country's first election in the late 1950s, and every one since. singapore gained fullindependence in 1965, and lee kuan yew becameits first prime minister and the father of the nation.

under his leadership,singapore founded asean, developed one of the world'shighest living standards, diversified industry, and boomed as a global financial centre. singapore's style ofgovernment has its critics, but it certainly works, and it's ranked as the moststable economy in asia. the lion city lead the regioninto the asian century. it's now diversifyingfrom shipping and finance,

and building a localtechnology and start-up scene. singapore is fast becomingthe silicon valley of asia, and attracting start-ups intechnology, communications, and other industries. insead ranks singapore as the most innovative country in asia and third in the world. talk about a bunch of over-achievers. muru-d is a start-upaccelerator in singapore,

founded by the australiantechnology company, telstra. i paid a visit to find out what's attracting newbusiness to the city. i actually think singapore's future is the thing that's really the most attractive about it. we're talking about acentre of gravity here which is surrounded by 600million upwardly-mobile, young, socially-engaged customers,

all coming into the middle class, and i think that the next 10 years will bear out the argument that southeast asia as a subset of asia more broadly, is the next vibrant tech scene. - what does the singapore government do to create this environment? what sort of incentives do they provide? how does it sit?

- it's very well knownthat singapore government actively supports innovation. they provide business-friendly policies. they provide tax incentives. they provide a range of grants in r & d. - even for an experienced industry player, how do you actually getstarted and networked in singapore in the start-up scene? - well, you have to have a clear view

as to why you're coming to singapore. so that's the first thing i'd say. secondly, i think that thereare incredibly strong networks of both ecosystems of entrepreneurs as well as investors here, so i'd be first of all, obviously, looking at the tech inasia, e27 publications, to get a sense of the players. there are some well-known resources

which you can familiarise yourself with, but nothing beats introductionsand conversations. i would suggest that you get in touch with anyone you know withinthe singapore ecosystem. the other thing tofamiliarise yourself with would be the type andnumber of vc firms here. they're all a littledifferent, and make sure, if you're coming here to start a business, that you have a clear viewas how you're going to

participate in this market,why you're gonna win, and who specificallywould be investing in you. - so in short, is itthe power of proximity, or the power of partnerships? - i think proximity yieldsopportunities for partnerships. you can't do partnerships from abroad. being here is 90% of the answer. - where are you seeingthe strongest growth? - i think over the last 5 years,

there's been incrediblegrowth in e-commerce, and that's probably afunction of the development of southeast asia more generally. you know, you've got awhole range of consumers that for the first time aregaining access to the internet, that are having their first smartphones, and are starting to consumefrom products around the region. i think e-commerce was and still is one of the big sectors here,marketplace businesses.

i definitely think theopportunities are broad within southeast asia andi think, my gut tells me, that b2b is the great unsolved opportunity around southeast asia. - [tim] just 5 1/2 million people, why would you want to start selling to this little red dot on the asian map? let's find out after the break. (edgy digital music)

singapore may be small, but it's one of the richestcountries in the world. it has a large middleclass with money to spend and attracts shoppersfrom around the region to its glitzy malls andtree-lines promenades. let's look at how you canget your product over here. pretty much everything canbe imported into singapore, duty free, except cars, alcohol, tobacco, and petroleum products.

that's pretty attractive for about almost all exporters. the country does have a sales tax, or gst of 7% on all imported goods. vet products direct isan australian company that recently established in singapore. let's find out how it's going. - we started work there five years ago, five or six years ago,and almost immediately

got a very strong response,and we've seen good growth year-on-year, and at this point, we don't see a ceiling to that. we can see it continuing to develop. - how do you distribute your products in the singapore market? - when we first launched, itwas very much a test market, and we had no idea. and so, we used all of ourinfrastructure in australia

and just shipped direct,so using australia post. there was costs and timecosts associated with that, but as soon as we startedto see the potential there, then we started to warehouselocally in singapore, and distribute there, andwe've been through a number of iterations of that, sonow the australian products are still quite stronglysought-after in singapore, but now we're tending to sendthem in larger quantities and then distribute locally.

- you have a bricks-and-mortar store in singapore.- yes. - why the decision to seta store up in singapore? - the local consumersstarted to ask for that. so that was a really positive thing. it also drives some credibility. - you don't have to set upa bricks-and-mortar store to do well in singapore. it's a tech-savvy market,

with around 95% of consumers shopping online as well as in-store. our friends at australiapost can of course help you manage your inventory and fill orders from your home base, plus they have some great local tips. - the first step for a small business in wanting to export to singapore is actually just to sell to singaporeans.

e-commerce transactionsare very big in singapore; they're very comfortable to buy online. or maybe go through on of the marketplaces that they use quite regularly. then, if you were tostart to be successful in selling to consumers in singapore, you might like to export to them. if you were to do that,really singaporeans like a local relationship with a company

that's established there. so, singapore wouldprobably be a great place to go and explore and startto build a partner, so a local retailer,even a local wholesaler, or maybe a complimentary brand. - singapore is renowned for the best quality of life in asia. add that to a low tax environment, minimal red tape, and amultilingual workforce,

and that sounds like the ideal place to set up operations and do business. i spoke to pete allen,of grant thornton singapore, and asked him if his clients focused on the singapore market, or use it as a launchpad into southeast asia. - this is a very small market. it's not a cheap market. particularly a lot ofexpatriate goods are expensive,

so relatively few ofour clients, certainly, come in here for the singaporean market. they're usually coming here as an entry point tothe region as a whole. - with globalization now,many businesses can go direct to vietnam or indonesia, so what sort of businesswould actually set up in singapore as a hub forother markets in the region? - i think a lot ofbusinesses choose singapore

because they have not yet decided what the balance of their portfolio in the rest of the region is going to be. i think if you already know that you are going todo business in vietnam and you are only going todo business in vietnam, then it makes limited sense, frankly, to do it through a singaporeoperation or a singapore hub. but most businesses aren't

in that situation, in our experience. most businesses know theywant to be in this region, and they see this as a natural place from which to start that process of investigation and development. - what are the major challenges facing businesses settingup here in singapore? - i think the one that i would encourage people to look at is cost and pricing.

singapore is an interesting market from a pricing point of view. some things are very cheap, think taxes, some things are very expensive, think gin. and you need to think about that, and depending on your business, you need to think about that in the context of pricing differentials with what you're used to.

- a lot of people say that singapore is a low tax environment. how low are we talking here? - my effective tax rate's 15.7%, which, compared with london, which is where i've justcome from, is pretty low. corporation tax rates are around 17%, gst is at just 7%, so itis a low tax environment. as well as being a low tax environment,

it is a very simple tax code. it's a very advantageous taxenvironment for any business. - singapore is a very mature market, successful oecd-style economy. what sort of new hotsectors have you seen? - it's got a very lively tech sector, lot of start-up activity. there are considerable tax breaks, even within the low tax environment,

for financing tech start-ups. the government's very keen on making singapore a smart cityin which to operate. so tech, definitely. - singapore is a stand-alonemarket in its own right, but is also an ideal baseto access southeast asia and the entire region. we're following australiannatural health company blackmores throughout the series, andtheir journey into asia.

blackmores chose singaporeas its asian hub, and most regionalexecutives are based here. i found out why. - so, singapore is an attractive place, because of this pro-business environment, and the government hasalways made it a point to make singapore seamless connectivity with all the countries. yes, singapore makes sense, because

singapore is the mid-point between australia and the asian countries. singapore has a pool of professionals, multi-discipline professionals where blackmores can tap onto, to build its core corporatefunctions in singapore. we have corporate functions like strategic business planning, development, we havemarketing, e-commerce,

and we are supposed tobuild a very efficient supply chain to asia,and we have, of course, the finance and hr functions. - does singaporegovernment locally provide any incentives for youto base yourself here as a hub for asia, or forsoutheast asia or both? - the edb is actuallyvery supportive of new businesses, in thissetting up in singapore. basically, they provide a lot of support

in terms of recommendations, partnerships, you know, so there's quitea number of incentives, depending on whichindustry the company is in. of course, there is also tax incentives, in terms of tax ratesor in terms of grants. - singapore is efficient and transparent, with exceptionally talented people running business and government. to do well here, you must understand

and respect the local culture and processes that are in place. it's what makes thiscountry so successful. take time to learn how singaporean partners and clients think and operate. i love singapore's mix of chinese, indian, and malay cultures, along with a livelyinternational expat community. i first visited the countryas a university student

and had the privilege of studying with a number of talented singaporeans, kicking off my education on local culture and business practice. here's what i've learned. start by respecting the government badge. singapore's proud of its success and the government guidanceof economic activity. remember, singapore'sfirst prime minister,

the late lee kuan yew, is much revered bygenerations old and young. follow regulations carefully. they're strictly enforced. take advantage of the diverse communities the hawker centers,chinatown, and little india; try the incredible foodfor all tastes and budgets. and finally, have a good time, and follow singapore's slogan,

we take fun seriously. singapore has investedin creative industries so entertainment and culture is important, despite the city state's no-nonsense, industrious reputation. i sat down with indrani bitfrom the grand hyatt singapore, to get her insight on thecity's diverse culture. - when you travel to singapore, you will realize there'sno such singaporean face,

because there's so manycultures in singapore, like malay, and indian, andeven european influences, chinese obviously. - what are some of thecultural sensitivities that a foreign businessperson should observe when they come to singapore? - you do have four nationalreligions in singapore. so we do celebrate allof the religious holidays in singapore, so nomatter if it's ramandan

or if it's christmas, or vesak day. what you have to be verysensitive of, obviously, is with muslim business partners, that you obviously makesure that you don't necessarily offer alcoholic beverages or any pork dishes overyour business dinners. - what guidelines shouldforeign business people follow, when undertaking businessentertainment here? - you should always know

where your business partner is from, or what kind of religion he's from. most of the time, you can just ask them for their dietary requirements, especially because we've got the different religions in the country. that you make sure thatyou know if they eat pork, or if they need ahalal-certified restaurant. a lot of westerners prefer to be outdoors.

singaporeans don't like to be outdoors, because obviously they areexposed 365 days a year to the heat, so for them it's... their first thought is not necessarily to sit somewhere outdoors,or to have a picnic outdoors. this is not necessarily preferred. everyone likes to be, singaporeans like to be indoors, so when you have business meetings,

always choose indoor facilities. always make sure there's food. as singapore is a very small country, it's very easy to get around, so i would recommend not necessarily to walk to business meetings, because of the very humid and hot climate. taking taxis is very cheap in the city, and also the mit system.

- food is a big part ofthe singapore culture. check out our website forindrani's dining tips. well, here we are at singapore's world famous changi airport. thanks for joining us on thistour around the lion city. let's recap what we learnedabout doing business here. singapore is pro-businessand foreign investment. there are few barriers to entry, and a low corporate andpersonal tax environment.

the government offers generous grants and support for businessesentering singapore in specific industries. stick to the rules inall government dealings, and respect them. that's what makes thecountry so efficient. look for professionalbodies that have chapters based in singapore, likecertified practicing accountants. join your country's chamberof commerce, and find out

if your old university hasa network here, as many do. enjoy yourself, work hard, but don't forget to havefun while you're here. singapore is a great tourist destination, as well as a business hub. head over to our website,theairporteconomist.com, where you can watchextended guest interviews, discover exclusiveoffers from our partners, and find out where we're flying to next.

so see you next time, i'm tim harcourt, and i'm the airport economist.


- welcome to singapore, the economic jewel of southeast asia. i'm tim harcourt, the airport economist, and i'm going to showyou how to do business in this dynamic city state.


things not to do in singapore

things not to do in singapore, singapore's a global financial center, a regional trade and logistics hub, plus a significanteconomy in its own right. it's one of the easiestplaces to operate in asia

with english as an official language, few barriers to entry, and a strong, pro-businesslegal framework. singapore is clean, efficient,and it's air-conditioned. what's not to love? coming up one of thecity's leading executives explains why singapore is suchan easy place to do business. we discover the city's emergingstart-up and tech scene, and learn how singapore is a great base

to access the southeast asian market. singapore is located on thetip of the malay peninsula, across from indonesia,between the south china sea and the indian ocean. there's a population ofjust 5 1/2 million people but it churns out gdp ofaround $300 billion us dollars, making it the 39th biggesteconomy in the world. on a per capita basis, singapore is ranked seventh in the world,

not bad for a tiny city state with no natural resources or agricultural land. singapore's economy is growingat just over 2% a year. there's barely any inflation,and unemployment is only 2%. so what's the secret? singapore woos overseas investors, welcomes foreign trade, andis strategically located on major trade routes in and out of asia. its changi airport isa global aviation hub,

and ranked the best airportin the world by skytrax. it has almost 7,000 flightsa week to 80 countries. it's also one of the world'sbusiest air cargo hubs, transporting goods likeelectrical components. shipping is also bigbusiness in singapore. its port handles half theworld's crude oil supply, and a fifth of all shipping containers. the port is a vital asset, as singapore has to import

most of its food and natural resources. the country's top trading partners are china, the us, and malaysia. the world bank has ranked singapore as the world's easiestplace to do business for the past 10 years, and it's the second-mostcompetitive economy in the world, according to the world economic forum. pretty impressive.

i spoke to anz bank'ssingapore ceo to find out why singapore is so special. - it's well located inan important region, in terms of its proximityto other markets. has great connectivity globally. from a physical perspective,obviously, it's a major hub for shipping and airlines,so it's attracted a lot of logistics activities in the region. there's been a real focus on technology,

so there's fantastic connectivity here both within singapore and globally. we have a strong, stable government, that's business-friendly. we have a market that'svery attractive for labor, so it's a real centre ofexcellence for many skills. - [tim] do you find thatthis market only suits the top end of town, or do you think other small and medium-sized businesses

in various industries can succeed here? - i think there's a very broad opportunity in this market, fromsmall through to large. we've seen many great success stories across a wide range of industries. there's some industries that are obvious and have been here for some time, but there's many emerging opportunities, for instance, in the health tech space,

for instance, education. agriculture is somethingthat is of great importance to this region and singaporeis at the heart of that as a commodity trading centre. if you want to get involved in asia, singapore's a great placeto start that journey. - in general, do businessesset up in singapore to service indonesia, andmalaysia, and thailand? or, if you had a business that

had a factory or an office in indonesia, wouldn't you just go straight there? why would you use singapore necessarily? - so, establishing yourselfin singapore as a base, i guess you, particularly for smaller businesses, it gives you theopportunity to create scale, rather than spreading your resources around a range of markets.

operating from singaporeallows you to have a range of activities andexplore those markets, from a strong location. - [tim] the anz opportunityasia report shows that australian businesses inasia are far more profitable and have better growth prospects than their domestically-focused peers. can your business really afford not to consider theopportunities that asia presents?

read the anz opportunityasia on thesbhub.com.au. south australia's cafetto makes cleaning productsfor coffee machines. it chose singapore forits regional headquarters and, with the help of anz, has expanded throughout the region. - i think singapore'sgot a lot of advantages for a company in australia. the first thing we discovered was

how difficult it was to be exporting our products into asia without some local presence. people wanted to deal with local people. they wanted to be able to handle their transactions locally. we needed to provide some mechanism by which people could do that. singapore's got the lovely advantage that

english is the prime language, and so for an adelaide company, it was relatively easy to get to, compared to other places. - so you'd say it's been an easy process, exporting to singapore,having a regional hub there? - i think singapore is a verygood place to do business, for an australian company. i think the businesspractices in singapore,

the structure, the legal structure, to be able to set up a companyis very straightforward. there's no surprises there. it's a very open economy,which makes it very simple for us to do business, and then of course, itreally is a regional hub for southeast asia. - where there any particular challenges in setting up in singapore?

- the only thing is that it's obviously a more expensive country todo your logistics from, in terms of warehousing, and that sort of operation, but i think the othertransactional costs make it, compensate for that, whichmakes it very simple. the costs of doing businessare very, very low, compared to other places,and very few surprises. - singapore has a diverse history,

with chinese, malay,indian, and european roots. a small fishing village and trading port colonised by the british, and then flattened in world war ii. in just 50 years, singapore developed from the ruins of japaneseoccupation to one of the world's most sophisticated financial powerhouses. here's its amazing story. singapore was first known as temasek,

which means, sea town. it was an ancient tradingport for the chinese, the portuguese, and the arabs. the british beat the dutch as colonists, and sir raffles claimedsingapore for the empire in the early 1800s. over the followingcentury, also it developed as a trading hub and financial centre as banks and commerce wereestablished in the city.

singapore sufferedgreatly in world war ii. the empire's asian fortress fell in a surprise attack in early 1942. it was the largest surrenderof a british force in history. the people's action party wonthe country's first election in the late 1950s, and every one since. singapore gained fullindependence in 1965, and lee kuan yew becameits first prime minister and the father of the nation.

under his leadership,singapore founded asean, developed one of the world'shighest living standards, diversified industry, and boomed as a global financial centre. singapore's style ofgovernment has its critics, but it certainly works, and it's ranked as the moststable economy in asia. the lion city lead the regioninto the asian century. it's now diversifyingfrom shipping and finance,

and building a localtechnology and start-up scene. singapore is fast becomingthe silicon valley of asia, and attracting start-ups intechnology, communications, and other industries. insead ranks singapore as the most innovative country in asia and third in the world. talk about a bunch of over-achievers. muru-d is a start-upaccelerator in singapore,

founded by the australiantechnology company, telstra. i paid a visit to find out what's attracting newbusiness to the city. i actually think singapore's future is the thing that's really the most attractive about it. we're talking about acentre of gravity here which is surrounded by 600million upwardly-mobile, young, socially-engaged customers,

all coming into the middle class, and i think that the next 10 years will bear out the argument that southeast asia as a subset of asia more broadly, is the next vibrant tech scene. - what does the singapore government do to create this environment? what sort of incentives do they provide? how does it sit?

- it's very well knownthat singapore government actively supports innovation. they provide business-friendly policies. they provide tax incentives. they provide a range of grants in r & d. - even for an experienced industry player, how do you actually getstarted and networked in singapore in the start-up scene? - well, you have to have a clear view

as to why you're coming to singapore. so that's the first thing i'd say. secondly, i think that thereare incredibly strong networks of both ecosystems of entrepreneurs as well as investors here, so i'd be first of all, obviously, looking at the tech inasia, e27 publications, to get a sense of the players. there are some well-known resources

which you can familiarise yourself with, but nothing beats introductionsand conversations. i would suggest that you get in touch with anyone you know withinthe singapore ecosystem. the other thing tofamiliarise yourself with would be the type andnumber of vc firms here. they're all a littledifferent, and make sure, if you're coming here to start a business, that you have a clear viewas how you're going to

participate in this market,why you're gonna win, and who specificallywould be investing in you. - so in short, is itthe power of proximity, or the power of partnerships? - i think proximity yieldsopportunities for partnerships. you can't do partnerships from abroad. being here is 90% of the answer. - where are you seeingthe strongest growth? - i think over the last 5 years,

there's been incrediblegrowth in e-commerce, and that's probably afunction of the development of southeast asia more generally. you know, you've got awhole range of consumers that for the first time aregaining access to the internet, that are having their first smartphones, and are starting to consumefrom products around the region. i think e-commerce was and still is one of the big sectors here,marketplace businesses.

i definitely think theopportunities are broad within southeast asia andi think, my gut tells me, that b2b is the great unsolved opportunity around southeast asia. - [tim] just 5 1/2 million people, why would you want to start selling to this little red dot on the asian map? let's find out after the break. (edgy digital music)

singapore may be small, but it's one of the richestcountries in the world. it has a large middleclass with money to spend and attracts shoppersfrom around the region to its glitzy malls andtree-lines promenades. let's look at how you canget your product over here. pretty much everything canbe imported into singapore, duty free, except cars, alcohol, tobacco, and petroleum products.

that's pretty attractive for about almost all exporters. the country does have a sales tax, or gst of 7% on all imported goods. vet products direct isan australian company that recently established in singapore. let's find out how it's going. - we started work there five years ago, five or six years ago,and almost immediately

got a very strong response,and we've seen good growth year-on-year, and at this point, we don't see a ceiling to that. we can see it continuing to develop. - how do you distribute your products in the singapore market? - when we first launched, itwas very much a test market, and we had no idea. and so, we used all of ourinfrastructure in australia

and just shipped direct,so using australia post. there was costs and timecosts associated with that, but as soon as we startedto see the potential there, then we started to warehouselocally in singapore, and distribute there, andwe've been through a number of iterations of that, sonow the australian products are still quite stronglysought-after in singapore, but now we're tending to sendthem in larger quantities and then distribute locally.

- you have a bricks-and-mortar store in singapore.- yes. - why the decision to seta store up in singapore? - the local consumersstarted to ask for that. so that was a really positive thing. it also drives some credibility. - you don't have to set upa bricks-and-mortar store to do well in singapore. it's a tech-savvy market,

with around 95% of consumers shopping online as well as in-store. our friends at australiapost can of course help you manage your inventory and fill orders from your home base, plus they have some great local tips. - the first step for a small business in wanting to export to singapore is actually just to sell to singaporeans.

e-commerce transactionsare very big in singapore; they're very comfortable to buy online. or maybe go through on of the marketplaces that they use quite regularly. then, if you were tostart to be successful in selling to consumers in singapore, you might like to export to them. if you were to do that,really singaporeans like a local relationship with a company

that's established there. so, singapore wouldprobably be a great place to go and explore and startto build a partner, so a local retailer,even a local wholesaler, or maybe a complimentary brand. - singapore is renowned for the best quality of life in asia. add that to a low tax environment, minimal red tape, and amultilingual workforce,

and that sounds like the ideal place to set up operations and do business. i spoke to pete allen,of grant thornton singapore, and asked him if his clients focused on the singapore market, or use it as a launchpad into southeast asia. - this is a very small market. it's not a cheap market. particularly a lot ofexpatriate goods are expensive,

so relatively few ofour clients, certainly, come in here for the singaporean market. they're usually coming here as an entry point tothe region as a whole. - with globalization now,many businesses can go direct to vietnam or indonesia, so what sort of businesswould actually set up in singapore as a hub forother markets in the region? - i think a lot ofbusinesses choose singapore

because they have not yet decided what the balance of their portfolio in the rest of the region is going to be. i think if you already know that you are going todo business in vietnam and you are only going todo business in vietnam, then it makes limited sense, frankly, to do it through a singaporeoperation or a singapore hub. but most businesses aren't

in that situation, in our experience. most businesses know theywant to be in this region, and they see this as a natural place from which to start that process of investigation and development. - what are the major challenges facing businesses settingup here in singapore? - i think the one that i would encourage people to look at is cost and pricing.

singapore is an interesting market from a pricing point of view. some things are very cheap, think taxes, some things are very expensive, think gin. and you need to think about that, and depending on your business, you need to think about that in the context of pricing differentials with what you're used to.

- a lot of people say that singapore is a low tax environment. how low are we talking here? - my effective tax rate's 15.7%, which, compared with london, which is where i've justcome from, is pretty low. corporation tax rates are around 17%, gst is at just 7%, so itis a low tax environment. as well as being a low tax environment,

it is a very simple tax code. it's a very advantageous taxenvironment for any business. - singapore is a very mature market, successful oecd-style economy. what sort of new hotsectors have you seen? - it's got a very lively tech sector, lot of start-up activity. there are considerable tax breaks, even within the low tax environment,

for financing tech start-ups. the government's very keen on making singapore a smart cityin which to operate. so tech, definitely. - singapore is a stand-alonemarket in its own right, but is also an ideal baseto access southeast asia and the entire region. we're following australiannatural health company blackmores throughout the series, andtheir journey into asia.

blackmores chose singaporeas its asian hub, and most regionalexecutives are based here. i found out why. - so, singapore is an attractive place, because of this pro-business environment, and the government hasalways made it a point to make singapore seamless connectivity with all the countries. yes, singapore makes sense, because

singapore is the mid-point between australia and the asian countries. singapore has a pool of professionals, multi-discipline professionals where blackmores can tap onto, to build its core corporatefunctions in singapore. we have corporate functions like strategic business planning, development, we havemarketing, e-commerce,

and we are supposed tobuild a very efficient supply chain to asia,and we have, of course, the finance and hr functions. - does singaporegovernment locally provide any incentives for youto base yourself here as a hub for asia, or forsoutheast asia or both? - the edb is actuallyvery supportive of new businesses, in thissetting up in singapore. basically, they provide a lot of support

in terms of recommendations, partnerships, you know, so there's quitea number of incentives, depending on whichindustry the company is in. of course, there is also tax incentives, in terms of tax ratesor in terms of grants. - singapore is efficient and transparent, with exceptionally talented people running business and government. to do well here, you must understand

and respect the local culture and processes that are in place. it's what makes thiscountry so successful. take time to learn how singaporean partners and clients think and operate. i love singapore's mix of chinese, indian, and malay cultures, along with a livelyinternational expat community. i first visited the countryas a university student

and had the privilege of studying with a number of talented singaporeans, kicking off my education on local culture and business practice. here's what i've learned. start by respecting the government badge. singapore's proud of its success and the government guidanceof economic activity. remember, singapore'sfirst prime minister,

the late lee kuan yew, is much revered bygenerations old and young. follow regulations carefully. they're strictly enforced. take advantage of the diverse communities the hawker centers,chinatown, and little india; try the incredible foodfor all tastes and budgets. and finally, have a good time, and follow singapore's slogan,

we take fun seriously. singapore has investedin creative industries so entertainment and culture is important, despite the city state's no-nonsense, industrious reputation. i sat down with indrani bitfrom the grand hyatt singapore, to get her insight on thecity's diverse culture. - when you travel to singapore, you will realize there'sno such singaporean face,

because there's so manycultures in singapore, like malay, and indian, andeven european influences, chinese obviously. - what are some of thecultural sensitivities that a foreign businessperson should observe when they come to singapore? - you do have four nationalreligions in singapore. so we do celebrate allof the religious holidays in singapore, so nomatter if it's ramandan

or if it's christmas, or vesak day. what you have to be verysensitive of, obviously, is with muslim business partners, that you obviously makesure that you don't necessarily offer alcoholic beverages or any pork dishes overyour business dinners. - what guidelines shouldforeign business people follow, when undertaking businessentertainment here? - you should always know

where your business partner is from, or what kind of religion he's from. most of the time, you can just ask them for their dietary requirements, especially because we've got the different religions in the country. that you make sure thatyou know if they eat pork, or if they need ahalal-certified restaurant. a lot of westerners prefer to be outdoors.

singaporeans don't like to be outdoors, because obviously they areexposed 365 days a year to the heat, so for them it's... their first thought is not necessarily to sit somewhere outdoors,or to have a picnic outdoors. this is not necessarily preferred. everyone likes to be, singaporeans like to be indoors, so when you have business meetings,

always choose indoor facilities. always make sure there's food. as singapore is a very small country, it's very easy to get around, so i would recommend not necessarily to walk to business meetings, because of the very humid and hot climate. taking taxis is very cheap in the city, and also the mit system.

- food is a big part ofthe singapore culture. check out our website forindrani's dining tips. well, here we are at singapore's world famous changi airport. thanks for joining us on thistour around the lion city. let's recap what we learnedabout doing business here. singapore is pro-businessand foreign investment. there are few barriers to entry, and a low corporate andpersonal tax environment.

the government offers generous grants and support for businessesentering singapore in specific industries. stick to the rules inall government dealings, and respect them. that's what makes thecountry so efficient. look for professionalbodies that have chapters based in singapore, likecertified practicing accountants. join your country's chamberof commerce, and find out

if your old university hasa network here, as many do. enjoy yourself, work hard, but don't forget to havefun while you're here. singapore is a great tourist destination, as well as a business hub. head over to our website,theairporteconomist.com, where you can watchextended guest interviews, discover exclusiveoffers from our partners, and find out where we're flying to next.

so see you next time, i'm tim harcourt, and i'm the airport economist.

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