SingaporeCompanyIncorporation.sg, a portal for company formation services, has today published a comparative report on doing business in Singapore and the United States (USA). The report aims to help companies, including those based in the USA determine which country offers a better business ecosystem for growth.
The report referred to data from World Bank’s 2014 ‘Ease of Doing Business’ report and World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness 2013 – 2014 as well as 2014 Global Enabling Trade reports. It measures five indicators, namely company incorporation, workforce, foreign investment friendliness, corporate tax rate and intellectual property protection. The findings are outlined below.
Foreign investment friendliness
In order to encourage investors to inject capital into businesses, countries must have regulations to protect them. The Doing Business report measures this through the Strength of Investor Protection Index.
The index analyses the transparency of transactions, the shareholders’ ability to sue officers and directors for misconduct and liability for self-dealing. Singapore scored 9.3 out of 10 while the USA came in fairly close with a score of 8.3. This places Singapore in the 2nd position and the USA in the 6th position worldwide in the category of protecting investors. Thus, both jurisdictions offer strong protection to investors.
As the USA implements FATCA later this year and Singapore pledges to comply with it, both jurisdictions may see their ‘extent of disclosure index’ improve next year. As is, Singapore’s emphasis on compliance with regulations such as BASEL III capital requirements and the Singapore Financial Reporting Standard will continue to safeguard the interests of genuine investors.
Intellectual property protection
Other than foreign investment friendliness, protection of Intellectual Property (IP) rights helps boost investor confidence. According to the Global Competitiveness Report (GCR), Singapore was ranked second in the world and first in Asia for its IP protection. The USA was ranked 25th worldwide.
In Singapore, the costs of acquiring and in-licensing IP rights can be disbursed through cash payouts or corporate tax rebates. This is possible under the PIC (Productivity and Innovation Credit) scheme, which encourages Singapore business to invest in higher value added activities. Under this scheme, eligible private limited companies can claim either a 400% corporate tax rebate or a cash payout worth 60% of the related costs when they acquire or in-license IP rights in Singapore.
According to the GCR, both Singapore and the USA have good labour market efficiency. The U.S. scored very well in four sub-indicators, namely redundancy costs, country capacity to retain talent, country capacity to attract talent as well as hiring and firing practices. For the rest of the sub-indicators, it performed fairly well, ranking well under 50 out of 148 for every sub-indicator.
Apart from women’s participation in the labor force, Singapore ranked very well in most of the sub-indicators. However, in that category, the USA performed better, scoring 47 worldwide. Overall, Singapore ranked 1st and the USA 4th worldwide in the category of labor market efficiency.
USA or Singapore?
Having recently emerged from a sticky recession, the U.S. economy is still somewhat attractive to foreign investors. The country is still seen as an economic superpower and has some strengths that supercede Singapore’s. These include enforcing contracts, registering property, market size, business sophistication and innovation.
However, the Federal Reserve Bank has recently decided to scale back on bond-buying and the IMF has downgraded the country’s growth forecast to 2% this year. In addition, the GCR listed the following as the five most problematic factors for doing business in the USA – tax regulations, tax rates, inefficient government bureaucracy, and access to financing and restrictive labor regulations.
On the other hand, Singapore is a much smaller market, but it is well connected through good relations with its economic partners. Overall, it trumps the U.S. on many indicators in the reports evaluated. In the Doing Business Report, Singapore was ranked 1st while the U.S. ranked 4th worldwide. In the GCR, Singapore was ranked 2nd while the USA was ranked 5th worldwide. It has also emerged from the recession faster and has been adopting prudent fiscal and economic policies.
Commenting on the differences, Ms. Cheryl Lee, Operations Manager at SingaporeCompanyIncorporation.sg said, “After the financial crisis of 2008, Asia has been an important driver of the global economy. As many businesses look east to expand their businesses, operating from Singapore makes strong economic sense. According to Prime Minister Lee last week, Singapore is now home to 2,000 American companies. In addition, Singapore companies have supported 40,000 jobs in the U.S. so far. In view of the good economic relations between the USA and Singapore, American companies are in good stead to set up their Asian headquarters in Singapore.”
To see the full report, please click here.