The country’s geographical location at the intersection of the East and West has also contributed to its success as a trading hub for the world.
While global affairs, geopolitics and the economic environment continue to rapidly shift and change, what remains a constant is the integral role Singapore plays as an important engine for trade and capital flows not just around the region but for the world at large.
"Singapore has become a choice location for Australian businesses." - David Green, ANZ
As the countries of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) continue to develop and their economies grow, Singapore’s role in the region actually becomes even more significant – well exemplified by its role as chair country for 2018.
Australia – ASEAN connectivity; the significance of Singapore’s role
As ASEAN matures and the appreciation of the sheer size of its potential grows, the bloc is expected to play a more relevant role in global affairs and in driving the liberalisation of trade.
Singapore has said that as ASEAN Chair, it will focus on the themes of 'resilience' and 'innovation'. This includes promoting and upholding the regional order to better deal with emerging security challenges, tapping new ways to manage and mine digital technologies and pushing ahead with regional economic integration, among other issues.
Australia was the inaugural dialogue partner of ASEAN when there were then five member states in 1974. Australia’s growth and resources are complementary with ASEAN – this is increasingly recognised in Australian foreign policy.
In 2010 the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA) was put in place to enhance and facilitate the trade relationship. Since then ties between Australia and many of ASEAN individual member states have deepened and the value of the Australia-ASEAN relationship is being increasingly recognised.
However, as ANZ Research has highlighted, ASEAN’s share of total trade with Australia has largely been stagnant in recent years – and while existing trade in goods and services is strong, much of it is concentrated in four out of the ten ASEAN countries.
Protectionism is an emerging challenge globally but our Head of Asia Research Khoon Goh argues Singapore can help ensure ASEAN continues to move forward in terms of regional integration by bridging the digital divide in the region as a way to boost trade and investment flows. It’s a valuable insight.
- A logical entry point to and base for ASEAN and hub for regional headquarters
Ranked third in the World Economic Forum’s 2017-2018 Global Competitive Index (after Switzerland and the US) and named world’s second most easy place to do business by the World Bank in 2017, Singapore has become a choice location for Australian businesses to run sophisticated treasury activities.
Singapore features in the ASEAN expansion strategies of many businesses for the same number of factors that has led to its high ratings.
- Cosmopolitan city, highly skilled workforce
Singapore has a well-educated and highly-skilled workforce. Over 75 per cent of the population have tertiary-level qualification.
While it is a multilingual population, English is the country’s first language. Earlier in March Singapore topped rankings for the most-liveable city for Asian expats in a survey by ECA International for its low crime rates, easy access to good-quality schools and healthcare and low levels of pollution than other regional locations.
- Trusted and stable, business-friendly environment
Singapore’s strong credit rating and efficient and reliable legal system has attracted many businesses to set up offices here. It is also offers social and political stability that is unrivalled anywhere in Asia.
- Excellent infrastructure and connectivity
Within just a seven-hour flight radius of half the world’s population, with easy access to major Asian business centres like Jakarta, Mumbai, New Delhi, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Seoul. Singapore is also a recognised leader in air and sea connectivity and is the highest-performing logistics hub in the region.
With more than 200 banks operating in Singapore, it has become a key global centre for commodity trade and where many European and US corporates choose to base their regional headquarters.