Here's Why Businesses Relocate their Companies to Singapore

Aug 1 2022
Why companies relocate to Singapore

For a long time, Singapore has been regarded as a global business hub. Political stability, open business policies, a skillful workforce and an advanced infrastructure are some of the factors that go into consideration when businesses look to relocate their headquarters. These key attributes provide entrepreneurs and corporations with confidence that they can achieve marketing targets that meet their shareholders’ standards. Located at the heart of Asia, Singapore is an ideal destination for businesses to grow with many using it as a springboard to enter other emerging markets across the pacific.

This article highlights the key features of Singapore that attracts foreign investors to relocate their businesses here:

  1. Double tax agreement (DTA)

    Under the DTA, companies that are engaged in international business transactions and have paid taxes in a foreign country may not be taxed for the same income in Singapore. The double tax agreement (DTA) greatly benefits organisations by keeping their tax burdens to a minimum.  Singapore has over 90 networks of DTAs with countries all around the world.

  2. Legal system and security

    Singapore offers investors and entrepreneurs a sense of safety and security, given that it has one of the most stable political environments in Asia. It is recognised for its judicial system that upholds anti-corruption laws. This gives investors the confidence to choose Singapore as their business headquarters.

    Furthermore, the lower crime rate in Singapore provides a high degree of personal safety for its residents. In the event of cross-border disputes, businesses trust the Singapore government with its world-class arbitration facilities.

  3. Tax regime

    With no foreign exchange controls and restrictions, Singapore’s tax system offers a fair playing ground for foreign investors. Compared to other countries, it has a lower corporate tax rate on taxable income (which is charged at 17%) that attracts many investors to Singapore. Furthermore, foreign-sourced income may be exempt from tax, subject to meeting the following requirements:

    1. The foreign income has been subject to tax in the foreign jurisdiction from which it is received, also known as the 'subject to tax' condition.
    2. The highest corporate income tax rate of the foreign jurisdiction is at least 15% at the time when the foreign income is received in Singapore.
    3. The Comptroller of Income Tax must be satisfied that the exemption of tax on the foreign income will benefit the Singapore tax resident company.
  4. Strategically located

    Singapore is strategically located close to major trading hubs and shipping routes of the world. It has easy access to the sea routes of India and China, which make it a prime attraction for companies looking to reach these target markets. With proximity to other neighbouring Asian countries, companies can also reach out to different regions effectively via air travel to carry out  business operations with ease.

    Since the signing of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Agreement in 1993, Singapore has had an official network of 21 bilateral and regional Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) as well as 41 investment guarantee agreements. This has lowered the cost of business expansions and trade across international borders.

  5. Multilingual talent pool

    According to IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook (WCY) rankings, Singapore is renowned for its multi-racial society. The diverse background of its citizens makes it attractive for businesses that are looking to inculcate multilingual and multicultural sensitivities into their workforces. This talent pool is one of the richest resources of Singapore alongside a fast-paced innovative working environment.  

  6. Incentives for setting up headquarters in Singapore
    To encourage multinational corporations to relocate their headquarters to Singapore, the Economic Development Board (EDB) offers tax incentives to regional headquarter (RHQ) and international headquarter (IHQ) offices. Companies awarded the RHQ incentive can enjoy a concessionary tax rate of 15% on the qualifying income that come from operations in Singapore. The IHQ incentive also offer companies’ concessionary tax rates from 0% to 10%.

In conclusion, Singapore is seen as a preeminent business centre of the modern global economy. The country’s economic and political stability, coupled with its double tax treaties, extensive connectivity and talented resources create a favourable environment for innovative businesses to thrive in. Such benefits create opportunities for business growth which is one of the many reasons why businesses may choose to relocate to this strategic location.

The incentives and benefits mentioned in this article are subject to application submissions and approval by the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS).