Thursday, 15 Mar 2012
Overseas Business Risk - Singapore
We aim to provide information on this page on the key security and political risks which UK businesses may face when operating in Singapore.
Political and Economic
Singapore is the region’s most politically stable country. Singapore practices a modified version of the Westminster Parliamentary system. Each parliament sits for a maximum of five years.
The last General Election was held on 7 May 2011. The ruling People’s Action Party (PAP) has been dominant since 1959, before Singapore became independent and the PAP currently holds 81 of the 87 elected seats in Singapore’s single chamber Parliament. The Workers’ Party is the largest opposition party in parliament. More details can be read at www.parliament.gov.sg
The elections for President are held every 6 years with the last one held in August 2011. Details on the Singapore President are at www.istana.gov.sg
There are no direct elections for local government. A system of regional Mayors and town councils exists.
Singapore is an active player on the international stage. Singapore is a founder member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the regional grouping comprising Singapore and nine of its immediate neighbours. Singapore participates in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations. Singapore attended the 2010 G20 summit in South Korea as a leading member of the Global Governance Group (or ‘3G’) which is made up of nations outside of the G20.
Singapore enjoys good relations with its neighbours.
The Singapore economy weathered the global financial crisis well. Its financial system proved resilient, having emerged consolidated, well-capitalised and conservatively regulated from the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis. It needed neither bank bailouts nor did it experience major disruptions of credit flows. With one of the highest trade-to-GDP ratios in the world, Singapore was however hit by the subsequent economic crisis and the slump in global demand, with export-dependent manufacturing suffering the most.
Singapore was the first Asian country to slide into recession in 2008, hitting bottom with a 0.8% contraction in 2009. It has since witnessed a remarkable V-shaped recovery. This comes at the back of a global rebound in manufacturing as well as strong activities domestically, including the opening of the 2 integrated resorts in early 2010.
It posted its fastest annual GDP growth on record of 14.8% in 2010. Economic growth has eased considerably since with a 4.9% expansion in 2011, on the back of lower manufacturing growth particularly in electronics and biomedical clusters. Barring any external shocks, the government is forecasting a 1-3% GDP growth for 2012, given the subdued global economic outlook. External-oriented sectors are expected to remain weak, with the electronics sector likely to be particularly hard hit. Inflation (at 5.2% in 2011) continues to be a key challenge but is expected to moderate to between 2.5 to 3.5% in 2012. Labour market remains tight, with the lowest unemployment rate in 14 years, at 2% in 2011. Key long term challenges facing the government are raising productivity growth and reducing heavy reliance on foreign labour. Budget 2012 unveiled in February included key measures aimed at addressing these.
Note: Please access up to date statistics and information at the following websites –
Singapore Statistics - www.singstat.gov.sg
Ministry of Trade and Industry - www.mti.gov.sg
Monetary Authority of Singapore - www.mas.gov.sg
More information on political risk, including political demonstrations is available in FCO Travel Advice
Bribery and Corruption
Bribery is illegal. It is an offence for UK nationals and bodies incorporated under UK law, to bribe anywhere in the world.
In Singapore there is zero tolerance for bribery. Any attempt to bribe or otherwise prevent an official from carrying out their duties can result in arrest. In Singapore the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) is the government agency which investigates and prosecutes corruption in the public and private sectors. It was established in 1952 by the then British authorities. The CPIB’s primary function is to investigate corruption. It is also empowered to investigate other criminal cases in which corruption may be involved.
Incorporated within the Prime Minister's Office, the Bureau is headed by a director who reports directly to the Prime Minister. The CPIB is independent of the Singapore Police Force and other government agencies so as to prevent any undue interference in its investigations. The CPIB is empowered to detain suspects of corrupt practices without trial. Singapore was ranked 5th (of 176) in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) in 2012, after Denmark, Finland, New Zealand and Sweden.
Read the information provided on our Bribery and corruption page.
Violent crime is rare in Singapore. But visitors are advised to be alert at all times particularly of suspicious characters and behaviour; these may be reported to the premises’ managers or directly to the Singapore Police Force at phone number 999.
The Singapore Police Force has established the Police MRT Unit on the Mass Rapid Transit network to protect the public transportation system. Personnel from the Special Operations Command and the Gurkha Contingent are also deployed to complement other police officers on patrol. The Police Coast Guard is active inspecting ferries and other vessels in Singapore territorial waters.
All anti-terrorism activities in Singapore are overseen by the ministerial-level National Security Coordination Secretariat.
You may also refer to the following websites for more details: Singapore Police Force
Read the information provided on our Terrorism threat page.
Read the latest Travel Advice for Singapore from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.
Protective Security Advice
The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure also provides protective security advice to businesses
Read the information provided on our Protective security advice page.
Intellectual Property (IP) rights are territorial, that is they only give protection in the countries where they are granted or registered. If you are thinking about trading internationally, then you should consider registering your IP rights in your export markets.
In Singapore IP is protected by patents, trademarks, registered designs, copyright, and layout-designs of integrated circuits, geographical indications, trade secrets and confidential information, as well as plant variety.
The Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Law. It was created as the lead government agency that advises on and administers intellectual property (IP) laws, promotes IP awareness and provides the infrastructure to facilitate the development of IP in Singapore.
As Singapore’s IP regulator and policy advisor IPOS maintains a robust and pro-business IP regime for the protection and commercial exploitation of IP.
Singapore’s Intellectual Property Rights legislative and administrative regime is fully compliant with TRIPS or Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. It is also a signatory to several international conventions on IP protection on patents, copyrights, industrial design among others.
Please visit the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore website website for more details.
Read the information provided on our Intellectual Property page.
As with terrorism, the Singapore Government takes a serious view of organised crime and has in place several severe measures to counter it. These measures include the use of the mandatory death penalty against drug and firearms traffickers; jail and fines for those caught for human and goods trafficking; strict rules and expensive entry charges to discourage Singaporeans from patronising the casinos at its two integrated resorts; close monitoring of designated red-light districts.
Visitors from the UK are advised not to become involved with drugs of any kind: possession of even small quantities can lead to imprisonment or the death penalty. Read the information provided on our Organised crime page.
For advice on serious organised crime visit the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) website.