In Focus
ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Singapore trails Hong Kong, Japan in ease of doing business

It ranks sixth in Asia as the burden of additional compliance requirements pull Singapore down.

Despite its pro-business policies, strong connectivity links and skilled workforce, Singapore trails behind its five other regional neighbours in the ease of doing business rankings by accounting firm TMF Group. 

Thailand, Korea, Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan all rank before Singapore, indicating greater ease of doing business than the city state.

Also read: New Zealand beats Singapore in ease of doing business rankings: World Bank

Part of the reason dampening the city’s attractiveness are heightened compliance requirements for businesses. Singapore ranks amongst the minority (30%) of jurisdictions around the world where the responsibilities of directors and company officers are set to increase over the next five years.

Moreover, a number of regulatory changes are impeding businesses from setting up shop in the city state including the requirement to maintain registers of beneficial owners and registers of nominee directors and mandatory “Know Your Client” due diligence checks that could also slow down the process of incorporating companies and opening bank accounts.

“Complexity increases with the compulsory use of CorpPass as the only login method for online corporate transactions with government authorities as well as the recent changes to Singapore Employment Act in April 2019,” the report added.

Despite these compliance challenges, Singapore remains an attractive place to do business. “Firms known that if they set up in Singapore, they can get work done easily,” Kim Leng Siaw, TMF Group managing director for Singapore said in a statement. “Overall, however, the benefits of doing business in Singapore will continue to outweigh the disadvantages.”

Singapore also ranked considerably higher than other commercially attractive countries in the region like India, Vietnam, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Indonesia and China are amongst the hardest place to do business at second and ninth place respectively.

Globally, Cayman Islands is the world’s easiest place to do business followed by Curacao. Jersey, Thailand and Paraguay round out the top five. On the other hand, the most complex countries to do business in are Greece, Indonesia, Brazil, UAE and Bolivia.

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