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A Comprehensive Guide to Doing Business in Singapore vs United Kingdom

5 minute read

Are you considering expanding your business or starting a new venture in a foreign country? Choosing the right location is crucial for your success. Doing business Singapore vs United Kingdom: these are two prime destinations for businesses and entrepreneurs. But which one is the best fit for you? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll compare the economic landscape, business climate, taxation systems, workforce dynamics, and more to help you make an informed decision.


Economic Landscape

While Singapore’s economy draws its strength from financial services, electronics, and chemicals exports, particularly from the manufacturing and financial services sectors, the United Kingdom leans more towards the services sector. Ranked 9th for innovation and 2nd in the World Economic Forum’s 2016-2017 Global Competitiveness Ranking, Singapore has a higher GDP per capita than the UK. Additionally, both countries are active members of the World Bank, which supports their economic development.

Singapore and the UK are both integral parts of regional and international economies, including Southeast Asia. Singapore’s economic connections extend to the ASEAN Economic Community and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. The UK, despite leaving the European Union economic bloc, continues to pursue economic integration and facilitate trade with partner countries globally.

This economic overview, acting as a business report, reveals the opportunities and challenges businesses face in both Singapore and the UK, as discussed in the World Economic Forum.

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Business Climate

Singapore ranks second globally in terms of ease of doing business, credited to its simplified regulations and proficient bureaucracy. The Singapore government has created a highly conducive business environment that nurtures innovation and attracts foreign entrepreneurs.

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Regulatory Framework

Singapore’s regulatory regime is transparent, business-oriented, and supportive of new technology sectors. In contrast, the UK has a complex legal system with three distinct legal jurisdictions, which may pose challenges for foreign entrepreneurs.

However, the UK also provides a fairly open market for business opportunities.

Government Support

Government programs designed to support startups are prevalent in both nations. Singapore offers over 75 national sector-specific incentives and support schemes, while the UK has approximately 156 financial schemes. These programs create a nurturing environment for businesses to thrive and grow.

Taxation Systems

With a headline corporate tax rate of just 17% and numerous exemptions, Singapore is a lure for businesses. The UK, on the other hand, has progressive income tax rates and offers R&D tax reliefs. Both countries have different tax residency rules, with Singapore’s tax residents being managed and controlled directly from Singapore, while the UK considers a company a tax resident if incorporated or managed and controlled from the UK.

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Workforce Dynamics

For businesses operating in the region, Singapore’s skilled and multilingual workforce provides a substantial advantage. The UK, though having a vast labor pool, faces challenges due to an aging population and a shortage of blue-collar workers.

In the UK, those aged 25 and over are legally entitled to a minimum wage of £7.83, which can be used to calculate their minimum monthly salary. In contrast, Singapore does not have any preset wage requirements.

Business Language and Communication

The dominance of English as the business language in both Singapore and the UK facilitates seamless communication for international enterprises. Singaporean professionals also receive education in ethnic languages, while British English is predominantly spoken in the UK.

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Investment Opportunities

With a burgeoning market and a thriving startup ecosystem, Singapore presents abundant opportunities for investors. Some investment options include:

  • Singapore Saving Bonds

  • Corporate Bonds

  • Structured Deposits

  • Unit Trusts

  • Real Estate Investment Trusts

  • Early-stage startups seeking seed funding

On the other hand, the UK has a strong venture capital scene, providing ample funding opportunities for businesses despite Brexit.

Immigration and Visa Requirements

For foreign professionals and entrepreneurs, Singapore provides the Employment Pass and EntrePass visas. In the UK, Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) and Tier 1 (Investor) visas cater to foreign entrepreneurs and investors. Both countries provide a range of visa options to accommodate the diverse needs of individuals seeking to start or expand their businesses.

Intellectual Property Protection

Globally, Singapore ranks second in protecting intellectual property rights, backed by a sturdy national IP protection system. The UK also has well-developed IP rights but faces challenges due to Brexit, which has altered the process of registering IPRs and protection mechanisms.

Businesses operating in both countries can benefit from strong IP protection measures, which can attract foreign investment.

Infrastructure and Connectivity

Singapore’s investment in superior physical infrastructure – encompassing rail, road, airport, and seaport – coupled with outstanding digital connectivity, is noteworthy. The nation ranked second in Huawei’s Global Connectivity Index 2016, which evaluates the digital progress of 50 nations.

The UK has a larger infrastructure system, with the largest transport system in Europe, but may not match Singapore in terms of digital connectivity.

Quality of Life

Singapore is known for its high living standards, characterized by low crime rates, political stability, and a cosmopolitan lifestyle. The UK ranks high in social engagement and personal security but not as favorably in education and satisfaction of citizens with their lives.

Both countries offer an attractive business environment with a good quality of life, making them attractive destinations for businesses and entrepreneurs.


In conclusion, both Singapore and the United Kingdom present unique advantages and challenges for businesses and entrepreneurs. Singapore’s robust economy, conducive business environment, and skilled workforce make it an attractive choice for many. However, the UK’s strong venture capital scene, extensive infrastructure, and high social engagement also offer compelling opportunities. Ultimately, the choice will depend on your business needs, goals, and preferences.

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Comparing the economy of Singapore with the UK, both countries have a thriving financial services sector which fuels growth. However, Singapore’s exports in electronics and chemicals are its main sources of revenue, and its GDP per capita ranks higher at #10 compared to the UK at #23.

With its high “ease of doing business” score and straightforward regulations, the UK is an attractive option for businesses looking to operate in an environment where setting up shop is easy.

Singapore’s corporate tax rate is 17%, while the UK has a progressive tax system with different rates.

Singapore is ranked second globally for its strong protection of intellectual property rights, while the UK has an established system but faces challenges due to Brexit.


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