Business class to Asia: Singapore
Asia is today’s economic growth powerhouse and is fast becoming one of the most important areas for the UK’s future. However, as Sir John Boyd, Asia House Chairman, says the cultural differences in Asia “can strike the visitor and aspiring trader as exotic, even incomprehensible”. Here at yourHeathrow, and thanks to Asia House, we’ve decided to give you a snap shot guide to doing business in eight different Asian nations including what cultural customs you should know. Today we take a look at Singapore.
Singapore at a glance…
The Republic of Singapore is an island city state home to over 5 million people and at the heart of global trading routes. Singapore became an important colonial trade port after it was obtained by the British in 1824. In 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia to form a sovereign nation.
Mandarin Chinese, Malay, Tamil and English are the four official languages of this Commonwealth of Nations member. Significantly, Singapore is the home of the APEC Secretariat, which has helped to cement it as a regional leader in politics and economics.
Why do business in Singapore?
Advanced infrastructure, a skilled workforce and a low tax rate all make Singapore an appealing option for foreign businesses. Over 7,000 multinational corporations from across Japan, the United States and Europe call Singapore home while 3,000 companies from China and India also feature. Singapore is the UK’s sixth largest services export market and 12th largest for goods outside the European Union. Combine all this with a triple A credit rating, plus high rankings in economic freedom and ease of business comparisons, and you can’t help but consider doing business there. Did we mention the food is good too?
Getting there from Heathrow…
A number of carriers, including Singapore Air and British Airways, fly from Heathrow Airport to Singapore’s booming Changi Airport (SIN), which is fast becoming Asia’s central aviation hub. A 2007 agreement between the UK and Singapore has made it cheaper and easier to fly between the two countries. The almost 3000 flights between the UK and Singapore in 2011 led to over US$10 trillion worth of trade.
Top tips for doing business in Singapore:
- Start meetings with a handshake;
- Always bring name cards, and present them with the name facing the recipient;
- Ask how people want to be addressed as naming conventions vary between Ethnicity groups;
- Small talk is important;
- Decisions are normally taken by senior management as hierarchy is highly valued.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at Indonesia and how business is about to boom across its 17,000 islands.
Information and graphics for this article were sourced from a document published by Asia House, “Navigating Asian Markets: A quick guide to 8 Exciting Economies”. For the Singapore guide, including a case study, please click here.
Was this guide helpful? Have you done business in Singapore and have another tip? Leave a comment or tweet us @yourHeathrow, and Asia House @asiahouseuk, using the hashtag #Navig8Asia.