Singapore – The Regional Headquarters Of Major MNCs

Businesses of all sizes, belonging to various trades and hailing from all corners of the globe, have long viewed Singapore as the preferred place in which to locate their Asia Pacific operations. For years, the country has attracted the attention of business owners who look for political stability, easy access to a highly-skilled labour pool and ease of doing business in Singapore, all of which are crucial to ensuring business sustainability and growth.

Far from just doing business in Singapore, these companies are conducting their operations in the wider region. Asia Pacific is a huge geography, encompassing Greater China, Northeast Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia, as well as Australasia. It offers unrivalled business opportunities and is a source of low-cost labour and abundant natural resources. Multinational companies recognise these factors and have been heading for this part of the world. They need a base from which to direct their operations. In the hub and spoke model of modern business, Singapore becomes the natural choice.

One needs to just take a walk in Penjuru Road to notice the numerous large storage tanks that dot the area. These structures are part of a large oil and chemicals loading and unloading terminal belonging to a Dutch multinational firm that blends chemicals and fuels for petrochemical clients. Having come to Singapore three decades ago, the company identified it as the location for its first Asia terminal. Since then, it has built many more in Singapore’s western industrial region, before eventually making Singapore its Asia Pacific Headquarters. These terminals are part of the company’s global supply chain and Singapore is an important hub in its worldwide network. Singapore’s highly-developed transport infrastructure, the presence of other global petrochemical players and a pro-business environment clearly figured highly in the Management’s decision to set up its presence in this region.

Closer to town, leading financial institutions, too, have not only created a presence in Singapore but also made the city their Asia Pacific home. A stroll in the Shenton Way financial district reveals many instantly-recognisable global names. A well-known Swiss investment bank is headquartered here, as is a private bank, also from Switzerland, catering to private and institutional investors. Together, they cater to the well-heeled from Singapore and the region. That high net worth individuals from neighbouring ASEAN countries and other parts of Asia look to Singapore to grow their wealth is testimony to Singapore’s sound governance, secure financial system and transparent business culture. Singapore also plays host to a top United Kingdom-based asset management firm, among others, whose fund managers help clients manage their investment portfolios. Even the World Bank has its East Asia Pacific regional office in Singapore.

Companies present in Singapore are not limited to the industrial and financial trades. An American firm that processes and distributes animal feed, grains and palm oil made Singapore its regional hub in Asia Pacific more than 30 years ago. The company’s leadership identified the country as the perfect base from which to run its Asian growth engine. Since then, the privately-held business has firmly entrenched itself in the republic, while operating poultry-processing plants in Thailand, sourcing from cocoa plantations in Indonesia and processing imported soybeans to be used as animal feed in China. So much has the company gained from being located in Singapore that it is now actively giving back to society. As part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, it contributes to voluntary welfare organisations and an endowment fund it has set up with a local university.

Many more examples abound of multinational firms sinking their roots in Singapore. In the business consulting space, an American market intelligence consultancy specialising in the IT industry made Singapore its Asia Pacific base, while operating local offices in various countries in the region. As regional marketing executives from the major IT vendors provide guidance for their quarterly business performance, analysts in the consultancy compile top-line, regional information and generate forecasts, while verifying country-specific information with their local analyst counterparts. Singapore certainly has a big role to play in the transfer of business-sensitive information. Singapore’s reputation as the fourth best place in the world and the best in Asia in the area of intellectual property (IP) protection, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, is in play here.

With so many global firms making Singapore their regional home, Singapore has lots to offer global firms. Businesses will have much to gain by making Singapore their Asia Pacific Headquarters.

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Why Should You Consider Incorporating A Company In Singapore?

Incorporating a business in business friendly Singapore

Singapore has always maintained its envied position in global trade, with many MNCs setting up a base in the Asia/Pacific by incorporating a company in Singapore. In the 19th century, following Sir Stamford Raffles’ founding of Singapore and the subsequent transfer of control to the East India Company, Singapore was made a hub for entrepot trade. Its strategic location and deep, natural harbour allowed trade to flourish between the east and the west. Today, in the age of technological advancements that have made the world a smaller place, Singapore’s relevance to the world of business remains as strong as ever.

While Singapore is still an important transhipment point in global sea lanes, aided in no small ways by its world-class container terminals and the upcoming Tuas Megaport, Singapore also now boasts many achievements that make it a favoured location among global businesses. Singapore’s highly-developed transport infrastructure makes it easy for the movement of freight. Not only does this benefit goods importers, it has spinoff effects among other players downstream, resulting in benefits for companies in processing, reprocessing, distribution, resale, retail, as well as service providers that supply to these companies. An efficient transport infrastructure creates a healthy value chain that allows all companies to grow as a whole.

The Singapore government’s emphasis on education is well-known around the world. Realising very early that the country possessed no natural resources, the nation’s leaders made a deliberate decision to make education a priority, while developing the manufacturing industry. Today, the factories producing low-value goods have given way to high-tech industries and a knowledge-based economy has replaced labour-intensive trades. Nevertheless, the highly-educated workforce continues to add massive value to the economy. Professionals have made Singapore a centre of world-class biotechnological and pharmaceutical research, evident in the many R&D facilities set up in the country. Centres of excellence across various domains have been set up, a testament to the importance that the government places on growing the high-value industries. Others have contributed their expertise towards making Singapore a global financial centre, not far behind London and New York. Singapore’s lead in the financial industry is upheld by the strong monetary and fiscal policies of the government.

It is no coincidence that many global firms choose to make Singapore their Asia/Pacific headquarters. While Singapore has a small population, its pro-business environment and its proximity to the ASEAN hinterland make it an attractive base from which to springboard into the region. Incorporating a company in Singapore does not usually take more a few days and smaller companies can take advantage of the many grants offered by the government to give themselves a head start. A low corporate tax rate, coupled with tax incentives, sweetens the deal, making Singapore even more welcoming to foreign companies. The Economic Development Board (EDB) has been particularly helpful in helping foreign companies to settle in Singapore and grow.

The vast developing economies of Indochina and other countries in the region provide a wealth of potential for companies that are looking for low-cost labour and material, as well as an untapped market for their products and services. Singapore’s strategic location in the crossroads of Asia makes it an ideal base from which companies can direct their regional operations. The good connectivity with regional capitals, the stable Singapore dollar, as well as Singapore’s friendly relations with neighbouring countries, work together to boost companies’ confidence in doing business in the country. The transparent banking system appeals to business owners, who feel assured that their hard-earned money is in safe hands.

Naturally, a stable political system makes for a stable economy, which in turn attracts companies. The last thing that companies one is ever-changing government policies that may adversely affect both foreign direct investment, which may turn foreign companies away, as well as local companies, which may find it hard to grow and work with the foreign companies. A strong government also provides its citizens and companies located within its borders with physical security. This is more important now than ever, in view of the increasingly adverse security situation in other parts of the world. A safe place to conduct business in is definitely a boon to companies looking to bring their business overseas.

Singapore has made great efforts to make it an attractive place to do business in. A pro-business environment creates a healthy and efficient ecosystem that adds massive value to businesses, allowing them to grow and prosper.

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