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Easiest place to do business  
It should shock nobody to find out that, once again, Singapore has topped the list of best places in the world in which to do business. The Economist Intelligence Unit has been compiling this list for decades and, in the last 7 years, Singapore has been its leader.
The rankings take a number of important factors into account, including politics, openness, efficiency, speed, taxes and the job market.
Despite its small size, Singapore's laws are perfect for people looking to make big investments. The government does all it can to remove the red tape that so many other nations see as essential to managing their economies. This means foreign investment can be done without the tedious bureaucracy demanded elsewhere. Meanwhile, low corporation taxes ensure investors get the most of their money, without having to break off a large chunk for the local authorities.
While Switzerland, Sweden, Denmark and Sweden all found their way into the top ten, the surprising absence of some of the Eurozone's richest countries from the top ten speaks volumes. A mixture of fall-out from the economic crisis, endless bureaucracy and strict taxation all make the EU a frustrating place to do business, and there is no place for even heavy hitters such as France and Germany in the top ten. The UK, whose capital was once the engine of the world's economy, doesn't even make the top 20, only appearing in 21st position, one spot ahead of Malaysia. Now after Brexit followed by Donald Trump we will soon need a total revision.
As Jim Rogers, famous US investor who recently moved to Singapore, puts it:
“If you were smart in 1807 you moved to London. If you were smart in 1907 you moved to New York. If you are smart in 2015 you move to Asia. Singapore 40 years ago was a swamp with a half a million people. Now, it is the country with the largest foreign currency reserve per capita of any country in the world. It's got the best education in the world, the best health care in the world. It's astonishing to come to Singapore and see that everything works. Singapore is going to be the financial centre of Southeast Asia, probably Asia and likely to be one of the financial centres of the world.”
So, what is it that makes Singapore such an attractive prospect for business people like Jim Rogers? Well, this list is a start:
  • Singapore is rated 1 by the EIU and the World Bank for ease of doing business. Its economy is considered the third most globalised in the world, plus it is the third richest nation according to Forbes.
  • Corporation tax is a mere 8.5% up to $300,000 profits and stays flat at 17% for everything above that. There's also no capital gains tax, no inheritance tax and no estate tax.
  • It's got a superbly well educated, hardworking labour force.
  • It's very politically stable, with the highest quality of life in Asia.
  • It's extremely safe, with a focus upon peaceful living and law and order on the island.
  • It is a very multicultural society, with a hugely diverse population, yet has never suffered any of the race-related unrest issues that are common in many other multicultural countries.
Getting business done the right way in Singapore  
The Singaporean economy is now one of the most influential in the world, attracting huge investment from all over the globe thanks to its free, open and very tax-effective business laws. There is simply no more pro-business place to do business and, as more companies wake up to this fact, expect even greater concentration on the South East Asian state in the coming years.
If you are new to Singaporean business and want to get involved, then the sooner you do so the better. With more and more western companies looking to make a profit in Singapore and more and more western business people looking to work in Singapore, the best opportunities may not be there for long.
For those concerned about stepping into an unfamiliar business culture, then this guide will help. Here we run down the most important things to keep in mind before you start doing business in Singapore.
A westernised business culture, with an Asian hierarchy
The good news for those coming from a western business background, is that the Singaporean market-place is very much a westernised culture, despite its position in South East Asia. Unlike, say, China or Korea, where westerners constantly run the risk of embarrassing themselves by pursuing a deal with too much enthusiasm, the structure of how deals are struck in Singaporean business will be fairly familiar to anybody who has ever sat in a New York, London or Berlin boardroom. That does not mean, however, that there are not certain Asian-style workplace traditions that need to be respected – there very much are. Happily, however, they are a little easier to follow than in many other Asian nations.
Hierarchy remains a key part of the way companies are run and, like in the aforementioned Chinese and Korean economies, the senior management will make the first and final decision on everything – dissent is generally not expected or accepted. There is, however, a degree of tolerance for private debate, so long as it is reasoned and clear in its intention, though this should only be done in closed, one-on-one meetings and not in front of the whole team.
Similarly, it is considered very rude and unprofessional to get a junior member of your company to contact a senior member of a Singaporean company. Status is important here, and there is an unspoken rule that only those on the same levels will deal directly with one another. Age is a big part of this too, and the Asian tradition for respecting your elders and deferring to their experience over your youthful vigour is firmly in place here.
In fact, showing and gaining respect is really the key to how business gets done on the island. You will only build up a powerful network of business contacts by showing that you deserve their respect – through your professionalism, your usefulness and the respect you show to others. Losing face is very damaging in Singaporean business, whether it is due to your failure in a business deal or your poor personal behaviour.
Underlying all of these rules is the perhaps most important fact of all about Singapore, which is its incredible multiculturalism. The fact that this population of more than 5 million people is made up of a mix of Chinese, Indian, Malay and Western people means what is expected, culturally, in one company will differ in another. It might sound strange, but reading up on the background of the company with whom you wish to do business or for whom you wish to work will be essential to understanding how to behave.
The industries driving the economy  
Singapore's economy is not only the most open in the world, it is also the 7th least corrupt, the lowest taxed and is governed by laws that have been rated the most pro-business in the world. Given all these factors, it is easy to see why the Singaporean markets continue to soar and why so much foreign money pours through its companies. If you are looking to make the most out of this powerful and influential economy, then it is worth learning about what drives it. Here we look at the most prominent industries in Singapore.
Tourism
With millions upon millions of foreign visitors coming to Singapore every year, it is no shock to find out just how important tourism is to the economy. In fact, it is the biggest service sector in the state and is estimated to rake in about $30 million in 2015. What makes Singapore such a trap for tourists? Well, alongside its rich history, it fascinating clash of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Arab and Western cultures and it stunning conservation sites, it also has a glorious climate and some wonderful beaches. Business travellers also make up a huge percentage of the 17 million odd arrivals that come to the island each year, while retail and medical tourism are both also on the rise. Among the big names brands associated with Singaporean tourism are Singapore airlines (voted best airline in the world), Shangri-La hotels and Changi Airport (voted the world's best airport).
Banking
Given the free-flowing nature of its economy it was inevitable that the financial sector would feature on this list. Singapore's banks, wealth management firms and lenders are some of the most important business engines of South East Asia. Thanks to the extremely pro-business nature of its laws and its superbly gifted multicultural workforce, the island attracts tons and tons of investment and many of the world's biggest companies have money here. International trading takes place right around the clock, 24/7.
Construction
One of Singapore's most rapidly growing industries over the last decade or so, construction now sits at the top table as one of the economy's pillars. Its expansion has been quite remarkable to witness: in the year 2007 it grew a whopping 20% and has not stopped since. With shopping malls, casinos, hotels, apartments and much, much more being planned for the next year, it is only likely to get bigger.
Biomedical Science
The island of Singapore is now one of the world's most important centres for bio-medical progress. Key research and development projects are constantly being done here, while production and manufacturing of medical goods and the provision of medical services are also massive areas of growth. One indicator of the sector's rapid expansion is MerLion Pharmaceuticals, who received a Scrip award as the Best Company in an Emerging Market.
Logistics
Singapore is the world's most powerful hub for logistics services, according to the World Bank. The importance of this factor cannot be overstated, as it allows Singapore a huge influence in the global business community, as companies across the world rely on its logistics innovations. The island is home to Asia's most important logistics education centre, The Logistics Institute Asia Pacific.
Largest companies in Singapore  
Singapore remains one of the world's most open economies and its love affair with the free market continues apace. Business tends always to be booming on the island and this is reflected on how many large, internationally influential businesses are based there. Here is a guide to some of the largest brands and organisations who call Singapore home.
Cerebos Pacific
Cerebos is one of Asia's leading manufacturers of food and health supplies. Its main catalogue of products is made up of sauces, condiments, coffee beans and chicken related products.
Amtek Engineering
A precision metal stamping company, Amtek provides better engineering and manufacturing techniques to its clientele. Amtek parts can be found in everything from televisions to toasters to cars to computers and much, much more.
Frasers Centrepoint
An investment holding company, Frasers Centrepoint's biggest business is done in the architectural field. In fact, Frasers is now seen as one of the world's great innovators when it comes to supporting the building of high quality houses, both in Singapore and abroad. This is due to a mixture of different qualities that is displays in these projects, from the choosing of great locations, to the intelligent pricing, to the perfectly judged sales dates and launches and the excellent marketing campaigns.
CK Tang
Singapore's most prominent retail organisation, CK Tang's department stores and merchandising can be seen all over the island. These elements are far from the only arms in its operation, however, as it is also distinguished in the catering, café, restaurant, fashion retail property fields.
Boustead Singapore
Boustead is an investment holding business, one of the most trusted and long established of its kind. Its operations have been credited with spurring on much of the economic growth that has recently taken place in Singapore, thanks to Boustead's unique infrastructure.
British American Tobacco
With over 180 different markets across the globe, BAT is the second biggest cigarette manufacturer in the world. The secret of its success is its massive network of farmers – it works alongside thousands in countries all over the world to ensure it gets the largest and best tobacco yield.
Jardine Cycle and Carriage
Like many states in South East Asia, the automotive industry is a big part of the Singaporean economy and Jardine is at the centre of this. It works for a number of the biggest car brands in the world, including Mitsubishi, Kia, Mercedes and Citroen, providing numerous services including manufacturing, assembly, retail, distribution, mining and heavy equipment.
Auric Pacific Group
Once again, we add another investment holding company to the list, which shows you just how profitable and popular this business is in Singapore. Auric is known for being involved in wholesale distribution, equipment for the health industry, wine and food and property investment. Auric is a well-known brand throughout Asian business.
Captialand Commercial
A real estate company, Capitaland is also a major player in hospitality and financial services. Amongst its huge catalogue are offices, homes, houses, malls and more. It is by no means limited to Singapore either, with properties in 20 other nations.
City Developments
Known locally as CDL (City Developments Limited), it's the granddaddy of all property companies in Singapore. Since the early 60s, CDL has been lading its industry, developing hotels, apartment blocks, clubs and much more all over the island.
Up and coming markets  
If you are planning on investing in the booming Singaporean economy, it is worth paying attention to the trends and growth areas there. The freeness, openness and pro-business nature of the Singaporean economy mean that there are always new sectors on the rise and keeping abreast of all of them can be tricky. That's why we created this handy guide to the main areas to watch out for in the coming years. Getting in on the ground floor with these industries could be key to maximising your investment in Singapore.
Gambling
Though, traditionally, gambling was against the law in the Singapore, two major casinos have recently popped up on the island – the Marina Bay Sands and the Resorts World Sentosa. Since they opened their doors in 2010, these two hotspots have brought an estimated $30 billion to the local economy and put even more juice into the always booming tourist trade. The job market has been a big winner too, with around 30,000 jobs created either directly or indirectly by the casinos. The gambling industry in Singapore also includes the famous Singapore Pools, a state backed lottery that boasts a jaw dropping $4 billion annual net profit. Incredibly enough that breaks down at about $11 million every day of the year. Though there are still careful regulations in place to stop the seedier elements of gambling from spoiling the tranquillity and peacefulness of the island, gaming and gambling is likely to becoming a more and more prominent part of the economy in years to come.
Healthcare
Singapore is the proud home of Asia's best healthcare system, which makes it one of the most reliable and high quality healthcare system's worldwide. The proof of this is in the rapid growth of medical tourism in the last decade, with about 1 million people touching down in Singapore each year specifically to access its hospitals and doctors. The government wishes to keep increasing this number too, so one could do a lot worse than invest in Singaporean medicine.
Education
Like its medical system, Singapore's education system is one of the world's best and, thus, it attracts students from across the world to its institutions every year. The island has a long standing commitment to excellence in this field and standards are impeccably high. As most courses are thought through English, it gives Singapore a very wide catchment for potential students. This, along with the safety and standard of living offered in Singapore, makes it a very appealing prospect for young people looking for the best of the best from their third level schooling.
Media and communications
Over the last five years or so, Singapore has emerged as one of the main media cities in Asia. This is the result of a concerted effort from its government to boost its relationships with foreign media businesses, with new channels and home-grown movie projects. Video games are another hugely important part of Singapore's media sector and are expected to keep growing in the next few years. Global media brands such as Disney, BBC, ESPN and Discovery all have offices in Singapore.
Singapore market trends – fixed rates home loans  

There are increasing signs in Singapore's property markets that the home loans most favoured in 2015 will be fixed rates. The fundamental driving force behind this trend is this: there are strong hints coming from the USA that there will be cutbacks on stimulus spending. The knock-on effect of this speculation is that borrowers will be increasingly wary about the possibility of interest rates increasing. Those customers currently on a floating rate home loan may well find themselves suffering adversely due to the sudden interest rate rise, as well as rate fluctuations that are unpredictable.
One example would be to consider what is being offered by the DBS (formerly the Development Bank of Singapore). One of Asia's largest financial services organisations, with 250-plus branches in 16 markets, DBS has been at the forefront of investment, savings and loans for some time. It is widely respected as one of the safest banks in Asia. DBS stated they saw a rise in customers opting for fixed rate home loans by up to 30% from the previously collated 2013 figure of 10%. A spokesman stated that it was seen as a smart move for borrowers to choose this route while interest rates were low.
These particular loans are popular because they offer low interest rates in the initial stages, fixed for the first 2 to 5 years of term. Borrowers feel more comfortable with these packages because they give them greater control of their finances. This means that they are better equipped to look at the longer-term prospects for their financial arrangements.
It should be noted that floating rate packages are still available. In fact, many customers lean towards this particular type of loan because of its flexible nature. Singapore customers have many options to choose from. ANZ offer a three months ‘combo package' that takes its rate – 1.3% - from an average of the Sibor and Swap Offer Rate offered by the Association of Banks in Singapore. This gives customers and even lower percentage than the fixed-rate package of 1.65%.

Amazing property on offer in Singapore: Keppel Bay  
Clifford Chance LLP, the multinational law firm based in London UK, is known as a member of the 'Magic Circle' of leading British law firms. With an estimated total revenue of £1.27 billion, and £1 million in profits per equity partner, it is one of the world's 10 largest law firms.
As the Chinese economy goes all out to embrace new areas of commerce, one important change looks set to produce dividends. China's major cities are all looking for innovative methods of kick-starting their various enterprise plans.
One of the prize assets any ambitious business could ask for is a decent share of international travelers. Whether they're arriving in China laden with sterling, US dollars or indeed any other currency, it goes without saying that the longer they stay in China, the more likely they are to cause dents in local retail markets. In recent times there has been a significant drive to coax these tourists into venturing outside of their usual comforts zones. In short, they are being cajoled to leave airports and begin to seriously enjoy all be fine dining and sightseeing opportunities China has to offer.
Five of the largest cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Chongging, Chengdu and Guangzhou have introduced a revolutionary visa-free policy. This means that any travelers to these respective cities will be entitled to remain there for periods of up to 72 hours – without visas. Elsewhere in the People's Republic, the city of Dalian is expected to adopt this new approach early next year.
The signs have immediately been promising. Throughout the summer, groups of tourists from as far afield as Australia and France were welcomed into these cities without visas for the very first time. It is fair to say the exercise has been a resounding success. These westerners, relishing their new-found freedom, were to be observed in numbers, sitting outside cafes sipping tea, or getting tucked into bowls of noodles.
As part of the lifting of these visa regulations, travelers must already possess travel tickets into another country, along with the other standard travel documents. In the first instance, the policy was granted to visitors from 45 nations, including Europe and the USA. This was extended last month, and now covers an additional six countries, including Singapore, Japan and Brunei (although visitors from the latter three countries were already allowed to stay without visas for upwards of 15 days).
The thriving city of Singapore currently has a diverse range of properties on offer. Keppel Bay is an extremely popular choice for prospective buyers, for a number of reasons. Firstly, its location is hard to beat. Situated a matter of minutes from the city's main business district, it is also right in the middle of one of the region's most popular nature and recreation enclaves.
One development which is always well worth a look is Reflections at Keppel Bay. Boasting an enviable choice of units, either for rental or for sale, the amazing architecture is always guaranteed to provocative interest. In fact, the buildings themselves are less like housing and more like a slice of contemporary art. Within the complex there are six towers and 11 low-rise villas, wit a design to suit every taste.
Occupying an area of 100,000 ft.², as well as luxurious accommodation, Keppel Bay also boasts many amenities. Amongst these there is an Olympic-sized swimming pool, an exclusive clubhouse, and a fully-equipped gymnasium. To describe the views from the apartments as stunning is an understatement. Above the properties there are lush sky gardens, built atop gently sloping roofs. Residents can choose to enjoy the wonderfully warm Singapore climate from these retreats, or go out to visit any of the nearby parks.
This housing development really sets very high standards in real estate investment. The attention to detail is meticulous, with every aspect of its design, from architecture to the quality of its finishing, created with complete customer satisfaction in mind. Another plus is the fact that Keppel Bay's stunning architecture is surrounded by a variety of similar world-class properties. There are also a great many of Singapore's renowned attractions within striking distance. Not only does this complex overlook the beautifully tranquil waters of Singapore's bay area, simply having an address listed at this property is considered extremely prestigious.
Popular with a cross-section of Singapore society, from business people to expats, monthly rentals vary a great deal. An ideal way to get a hint of what the units have to offer is to go online, where videos of the interiors and exteriors can be studied in comfort. 99-year leaseholds are available.
Green shoots for the Thailand economy  
The civil uncertainty, that has had the knock-on effect of creating inertia in Thailand's economy, finally appears to be lifting. With the political situation remaining deadlocked, at least investors appear to have ceased their widespread policy of shunning the baht.
Ever since last month, the Thai currency has been looking exceedingly fragile. Participants in currency markets were certainly shaken by anti-government demonstrations that were witnessed in Bangkok's normally bustling streets. At the height of this turmoil, the baht dipped to 32.37 per US dollar, marking a weak point since September. Back then the Thai currency had depreciated due to rampant speculation that the USA was about to scale back its easing program.
The whole situation was prompted when Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra attempted to push an amnesty bill through Parliament. This piece of legislation would have allowed the ex-prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, to return from a period of self imposed exile by dropping various corruption charges. This was seen as a naked piece of favouritism and nepotism, given that the prime minister and former prime minister are brothers. The end result of this was an increasingly vociferous series of protests from opposition groups.
Much of the opposition's fury was abated when the Prime Minister announced, on December 9, that she would dissolve the lower house in order to hold a general election. While this in itself was not enough to alleviate all of the opposition grievances, it did appear to at least convince short-term currency dealers that the markets were not quite so volatile. Their policy of shorting the baht began to be reversed, with dealers seeking the opportunity to buy back the currency. After reversing course, the baht has strengthened closer to the 32 per dollar line.
Although this general election is scheduled to be held in February 2014, the crisis remains far from resolved. The opposition rejected the poll when it was initially tabled and have yet to commit to taking part. There may be several dealers in the financial markets who are nervously looking back to the last time parliament was dissolved for an election, in 2006. After that vote was boycotted by the opposition, a military coup took place. Were that to happen on this occasion, then one inevitable result would be that investors will no longer look upon the baht so favourably.
Alternative job hunting methods  

For most graduates, looking for their first job post-University will be the most intensive job hunt they have yet experienced. While there are thousands upon thousands of great companies out there all looking for smart, qualified graduates to fill important vacancies, finding the right one for you can be tough and, at times, frustrating.
The most common way to hunt is to do a regular sweep of the job websites and, certainly, that should be part of any intensive search. Yet there are other things you can do that can often be more effective for zeroing in on the big opportunities in your industry.
Consider these options:
  • Start your job search at home
‘It's not what you know, it's who you know' – it's an old cliché but remains as true as ever, regardless of what industry you wish to enter. So, before you start searching high and low on job websites, check those closest to you. Ask friends and family (both close and extended) if they know anybody that might already be working in your chosen industry. These kinds of organic connections can really take you places.
  • Utilise social media
Don't just put up your name, photo and CV on LinkedIn and leave your profile there to gather dust. Utilise this extremely powerful recruitment resource to make direct contact with key figures in your industry. Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus can also be used in this way, as many major players and companies in your field are likely to be active there. This can help you make contacts, get known and monitor new opportunities that arise in the sector.
  • Choose your dream job and make a direct approach
If you are truly passionate about your industry, then there is likely a company you have in mind as your absolute dream workplace. This gives you two choices. One: you can check the job sites everyday in the hope that this company will put up a spec that suits your skills. Two: you can take the initiative and make a direct approach to somebody in the company. If you choose the latter option, it may not pay off instantly as there's no guarantee they are hiring but, so long as you make a good impression, they will keep your CV on file for when they are.
An intensive job hunt will usually require more than one search method before you hit gold. Be prepared to try some of these alternative routes to success.

GradGreenhouse is a dedicated recruitment platform for graduates, combining the latest technology with state of the art tools, including Video Interviewing.

Singapore – residential property trends  
Amongst the various trends likely to be affecting Singapore's property market in 2015 is the rise in demand for singles accommodation. The housing board recently announced there would be fewer larger flats being made available in the city. However, the continuing high demand for housing from singletons has meant this corner of the market is facing substantial growth.
The figures speak for themselves. So-called built to order flats in non-mature estates rose from 2,600 in 2013 to 5,000 units in 2014. These two bedroom properties are ideal for the single market. As well as these purpose built flats, unsold two room apartments, previously set aside for families, will now be offered to singles.
One reason for the rise in singles accommodation is the fact that in the summer of 2013, two-room flats offered to that portion of the market went way over the 30% quota limit. In Yishun, in northern Singapore, the figure was actually 51%.
The housing board further announced that it plans scaling back the supply of three room and larger flats by around 18%. This will mean a drop from last year's figure of 22,600 to around 18,600.
As well as redressing this imbalance in the demand of accommodation between singles and families, the board stated that in 2014 it would be providing 700 studio apartments. These would be aimed at seniors who were looking to achieve the optimum living conditions.
Data ingathered by the board has further revealed that built to order flats aimed exclusively at families have fallen significantly. Indeed the average first-timer application rate slipped to 1.7 times last year. By contrast, the average built to order application rate eased to 3.0 times from the 5.3 times figure recorded in 2010.
For all this re-jigging of priorities, the board looks likely to persist in its policy of prioritizing accommodation for families. At least 70% of the flats in non-mature estates will still be allocated to that particular strata of Singapore society.
  
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