July 17, 2009

Singapore out of recession

SINGAPORE, July 17 — Singapore roared out of recession with growth of 20.4 per cent in the second quarter over the previous quarter, marking the first expansion in a year and prompting the government to raise its 2009 growth forecast.
The flash estimates, which are based mainly on April and May numbers, showed growth in the construction sector and a sharp improvement in manufacturing, thanks to the drugs cluster.
“The Singapore economy is back, and back with a vengeance,” said HSBC economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde, who expects other regional economies to produce similar rallies.
The government also revised its 2009 growth forecast upwards after three downgrades.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) now expects the economy to contract by 4 to 6 per cent instead of the 6 to 9 per cent decline predicted in April, thanks to the “less severe contraction” in the first half of the year.
The flash estimates showed that the economy surged 20.4 per cent compared with the first quarter — a far better figure than the experts had tipped and the first positive quarter after four consecutive quarters of contraction.
However, the economy was still down 3.7 per cent compared with the same period last year, its third straight year-on-year period of slump but again better than market expectations.
The brighter figures also mean Singapore is the first Asian economy out of a technical recession, defined as at least two consecutive quarters of contraction.

July 10, 2009

Singapore is the most trade-friendly economy in the world

Singapore is the most trade-conducive economy in the world, according to an influential report which put its long-time rival Hong Kong at second place. The World Economic Forum (WEF) pointed to Singapore's many advantages, including policy approaches, that have made it Number 1.

Its Global Enabling Trade Report cited the open market, highly efficient and transparent border administration, well-developed transport and communications infrastructure, and an open business environment.

“Customs procedures are assessed as the least burdensome in the world, and time and cost for both import and export are among the lowest for all countries covered,” the report said.

The WEF highlighted that the Singapore Government is highly transparent and efficient, while exporters face relatively low tariffs in target markets.

The WEF said Hong Kong's open domestic market mirrored Singapore's high dependence on exports and imports, but also noted that Hong Kong's exported products faced more barriers than Singapore's, as reflected in the tariffs it faced.

Barclays Capital economist Leong Wai Ho believes the differentiating factor for Singapore's success has been the numerous Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) it has signed. “We're the most trade-dependent economy in the world,” Mr Leong pointed out. “These FTAs have given us access to key trading partners and it's already showing up in the rankings.”

Minister Mentor of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew recently told Malaysian leaders that Singapore businessmen have thousands of projects in China, Vietnam, India and the Middle East, and that they are benefiting from the web of FTAs the country has signed.

The report, published for the second time and covering 121 economies, assesses institutions, policies and services that facilitate trade across national borders. The other economies in the top 10 are Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Finland, Austria and the Netherlands.

July 6, 2009

No magic wand

Straits Times, July 6, 2009
by Sue-Ann Chia

It needs 3 parties: New residents and S'poreans to bond, and Govt to provide framework.

On his visit to Punggol Central on Sunday, Mr Shanmugam encouraged both Singaporeans and new residents to mingle and get to know one another.
HOW to get new immigrants integrated into Singapore society? Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who is also Second Home Affairs Minister, said on Sunday the Government cannot be the 'total solution' to this.
Rather, the tricky problem takes three parties to solve - Singaporeans, who have to be welcoming; new immigrants, who have to adapt to a new culture; and the Government, which has to provide a framework for people to bond.
Mr Shanmugam stressed this three-way partnership at an hour-long dialogue with Punggol Central residents, in response to a question from a resident who wanted to know what can be done to integrate the growing pool of new immigrants here.
Last year, 20,513 foreigners became Singapore citizens, while 79,167 took up permanent residency.
It is the people themselves - Singaporeans and new residents - who have to mingle and forge friendships with one another, said Mr Shanmugam. Singaporeans, he said, should welcome 'newer residents with an open heart and help them integrate, bring them in'. This is already taking place in housing estates, he noted.
Mr Charles Chong, an MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, had last month estimated that up to 10 per cent of the residents in some blocks could be permanent residents or new citizens.
Noting how Singaporeans and new residents have come together to be involved in the programme for his ministerial visit, Mr Shanmugam added: 'That is a way integration takes place, at the ground level.'
As for new settlers, his advice was that they should 'take the attitude that they want to integrate'. He added: 'When we approve PRs, we look for people who can integrate, and can add value. We want to bring in people who will create more jobs...help the economy and all of us.'
The Government, on its part, will also find ways to help people interact, such as by setting up business organisations and social networks, he added.
The National Integration Council was set up earlier this year, headed by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports. Mr Shanmugam, who is part of the council, noted that there is no such thing as instant integration. 'You can't just wave a magic wand and say, 'okay, integration'. It takes many years,' he said.

June 18, 2009

Chinese star Jet Li takes Singapore citizenship

SINGAPORE (AFP) - 18 June 2009 - Chinese action star Jet Li has taken up Singapore citizenship and bought a property in the city state worth nearly 20 million Singapore dollars (14 million US), according to a report.
The Business Times did not say when the Beijing-born star took up his new nationality or bought the upmarket property. It did not give its source.
Singapore's Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) would not confirm the newspaper report when contacted by AFP for reasons of confidentiality.
A Beijing-based staff member at Li's One Foundation contacted by AFP declined comment.
Li is the latest Chinese star to have taken up Singapore citizenship, following in the footsteps of leading actress Gong Li, who shot to fame with her roles in "Farewell My Concubine" and later "Memoirs of a Geisha."
Gong Li, who is not related to Jet Li, became a Singapore citizen last year.

May 28, 2009

Singapore Global Investor Programme – gateway to investors paradise

Singapore is evolving into an entrepreneurs Mecca, proximately located to the emerging Asia, ever expanding free trade area, converging ASEAN, efficient infrastructure are not the only reasons but the governmental policies that favor the entrepreneurs and investors alike.
Global Investors Programme administered by the Singapore Economic Development Board (SEDB) is one such one which attempts to ease the entry and of relocation investors, to enable them to setup and develop their business. After its launch this programme has attracted thousands of investors into Singapore.
The success of the Global Investor Programme can be attributed to great teamwork. What started out as an internal EDB objective to review its entrepreneurship programme, became an interagency collaborative effort to develop a holistic programme that caters to global investors in terms of our entry policy for foreigners interested in doing business here. The GIP eases the way for foreign investors, entrepreneurs and business executives to set up and conduct businesses in Singapore. EDB will provide assistance in linking up foreign entrepreneurs and investors with local business networks, thus opening up more opportunities for business collaborations. This Programme comprises of four key schemes offering a range of immigration options for the investors, entrepreneurs, and business executives.

1. Permanent Residence for Investors

2. Multiple Journey visa

3. Social Visit Pass for Entrepreneurs

4. Entrepass

Permanent Residence for Investors: Under this scheme investors can seek permanent Residence status in Singapore and will be qualified if he/ she
Invest at least S$1 million in a new business startup or expansion of an existing business operation

Invest at least S$1.5 million in a new business startup, expansion of an existing operation, approved Singapore-incorporated venture capital fund or Singapore-incorporated foundation or trust that focuses on economic development


Invest at least S$2 million in a new business startup, expansion of an existing operation, approved Singapore-incorporated venture capital fund or Singapore-incorporated foundation or trust that focuses on economic development. Residential property can be purchased with not more than 50% of the investment amount.
Other investment vehicles such as venture capital funds, foundations or trusts, and/or private residential properties will be considered for application for Permanent Resident applications. Up to 50% of the investment can be in private residential properties, subject to foreign ownership restrictions under the Residential Property Act (RPA).
Multiple Journey visa facilitates the frequent entry of business executives from visa-requiring countries into Singapore. Multiple visits, each lasting up to 30 days, are allowed during the validity period of the visa which may be for 1,2 or 5 year depending on the prevailing ICA’s guidelines. The application has to be submitted along with a Letter of Introduction from a Singapore Registered company. This eliminates the Visa application for each visit. This will be of immense relief to investors who have to travel frequently to Singapore to attend to their business and investments.
Social Visit Pass for Entrepreneurs enables an applicant to stay in Singapore for 6 months, to explore business opportunities, conduct feasibility studies or complete negotiations. During the validity period the holder can leave and reenter Singapore without any hassle. The application for the SVP has to be furnished along with a support letter from the EDB. To obtain a Letter of Support from the EDB the applicant has to provide an overview of the business indicating Objective of your stay, area of business interest, Preliminary business idea, Target market , Development strategy & proposed timeline, Track record of previous business ventures ,if any, Relevant skills & work experiences. It normally takes 5 days for the letter of support to be issued by the EDB while the SVP will be issued by the ICA quite immediately on the day of submitting the application or on the following day.
Entrepass is designed to facilitate the entry and stay of entrepreneurs in Singapore to directly manage the business operations, and comes with an initial validity period of up to 2 years. It is renewable as long as the business remains viable and lucrative. The EntrePass also allows the applicant’s immediate family to live in Singapore while the successful applicants start and grow their business here. With the EntrePass a person can leave and re-enter Singapore frequently with ease. The lucrative nature of business and efficacy of the business plan are the primary criteria for the Entrepass. Normally it takes around six weeks to know the outcome of the application.

May 25, 2009

MM Lee says immigration is more viable, long-term solution

By Channel NewsAsia, 22 May 2009

TOKYO: Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, said India and China are the only countries in Asia that will not need to depend on exports to the US.
He also debunked views that the rest of Asia could have a consumer-led economy.
Mr Lee was speaking at the Nikkei Conference - an annual meeting in Tokyo attended by Asian leaders and academics.
"Asia Confronting Challenges, Pursuit of New Frontiers" is the theme of this year's Nikkei Conference.
Mr Lee is a regular guest at the forum, and on Friday, he gave his take on what some see as "common sense advice" on how to stimulate demand and boost the economy.
In the first three months of this year, Japan - the world's second largest economy - recorded its worst ever annualised GDP fall. The country also faces a fast aging population and declining birthrate - similar to the problems faced by Singapore.
Mr Lee said: "Unless you change man's attitudes, this declining birthrate will be a disaster for Japan and for Singapore. And it is happening all over Europe. So they are getting migrants from North Africa, Turkey, black Africa, Muslims, pagans, all sorts of new entrants.
"Japan doesn't want these immigrants. It is part of the culture of the country. In Singapore, if we have not taken immigrants, the economy would have become slothful."
Japan has only recently begun to hire foreign workers from Indonesia and the Philippines for jobs such as nurses and day-care workers. But Mr Lee said this will not solve the problem, and believes that immigration is a more viable, long-term solution.

May 14, 2009

Singapore is ranked as the most attractive city for mobile wealth in Asia

Scorpio Partnership (http://www.scorpiopartnership.com/), the leading business strategy advisor to the wealth management industry, has presented the world’s first index judging the attractiveness of the most popular financial centres to the mobile wealthy.
The Mobile Wealthy Residency Index (MWRI) is the result of qualitative research by Scorpio Partnership with senior advisors to the world’s mobile wealthy. The summary of the research is following:

• Switzerland still takes top spot as the most attractive jurisdiction for residency for the international mobile wealthy individuals and families due to its “rounded offer”;
• London, in second spot, has been damaged by the UK Government’s aggressive fiscal moves to penalise the mobile wealthy community;
• Singapore’s rapid development and implementation of a modern framework with attractive policies sees it take third spot. Singapore is ranked as the most attractive destination for world mobile wealth in Asia;
• The mobile wealthy are choosing a jurisdiction in which to reside on a far wider range of factors than just the headline tax rates;
• A clear distinction has emerged between the large “all-in” global centres such as Switzerland and Singapore and the smaller “niche” centres such as Jersey, Monaco and Cayman.

In today’s economic environment, where wealth, taxation and the offshore environs are seemingly etched into every discussion in the wealth management industry, the Scorpio team has pooled the collective knowledge and thoughts of the advisory community to measure where the mobile wealthy judge to be the best jurisdictions to meet their wide ranging demands.
According to the research Singapore is a demonstration that the East has risen fast as a destination for the mobile wealthy. This is a very positive reflection of this City’s growth plans which have seen it put in place a successful framework over the last decade implementing international best practice. Spurred on by the experience of the Asian financial crisis it has done much to make itself attractive to the mobile HNW community. Singapore is viewed by the mobile wealthy as the hub from which to do business in and throughout Asia and the Government has moved to make its fiscal environment attractive in the international environment.

The MWRI is a ranking of the 11 centres consistently described by the mobile wealthy and their advisors as the most attractive locations in which to live and work. The Scorpio team examined each across 11 criteria of competitiveness identified by the mobile wealthy as key drivers in their decision making process when choosing somewhere to live. Each jurisdiction was then scored through a ombination of qualitative and quantitative measures. Singapore was ranked to be the first on such criteria like Employment and business opportunities and security, to be the second in tax and immigration policies and legal considerations, to be the third in economic and political stability factor.

There is also clear distinction between the large “all-in” global centres such as Switzerland and Singapore and the smaller niche centres such as Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Cayman and Monaco. While these latter locations are rated among the top 11 locations for the mobile wealthy community and often offer them preferential treatment and opportunities, as one they struggle to compete with the major centres that can offer a wider and deeper range of benefits related to business, lifestyle, property and a concentration of other mobile wealthy residents with the same expectations, outlook and demands.

For further information on research, please look: http://www.scorpiopartnership.com/pdf/scorpio-pr_hnwdestinationsindex_may2009.pdf