Singapore - Country Commercial Guide
Trade Barriers
Last published date:

Singapore maintains one of the most liberal trading regimes in the world, but U.S. companies face several trade barriers.  It maintains a tiered motorcycle operator licensing system based on engine displacement, which, along with a road tax based on engine size, adversely affects U.S. exports of large motorcycles.  There is also a tiered system of additional registration fees, which serves as a de facto additional tax thus discouraging larger capacity motorcycle imports.

Singapore also restricts the import and sale of non-medicinal chewing gum.  For social and/or environmental reasons, it levies high excise taxes on distilled spirits and wine, tobacco products, and motor vehicles.

Services barriers include sectors such as pay TV, audiovisual and media services, licensing of online news websites, legal services, banking, and cloud computing services for financial institutions.  Details can be found in the USTR Report on Foreign Trade Barriers that is available online.

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA), under the auspices of the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment, oversees all food-related matters such as food safety and security.  The Singapore Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), under the National Parks Board (NParks), oversees all non-food related animal, plant, and wildlife management matters.  They are the primary Singapore government agencies concerned with food and agricultural trade.

Although SFA largely follows internationally accepted, science-based regulatory standards, including WOAH and Codex guidelines, the agency continues to implement a few stringent import protocols that negatively impact trade with the United States, including several time-consuming pathogen testing requirements that increase costs and pose trade barriers for some products.  On the other hand, Singapore has begun to ease some import requirements and regulations in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. One notable example are the changes to the Food (Amendment) Regulations 2022 that came into effect July 31, 2022 regarding Pathogen Reduction treatments (PRTs) on raw meat.  The amendments increase the allowed number of PRTs from nine to 21 significantly improving market access for U.S. meat and poultry exporters.  For additional details on food and beverage import requirements, please refer to the Foreign Agricultural Service‚Äôs (FAS) Food and Agricultural Import Regulations and Standards (FAIRS) report at   

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of business in Singapore, except for national security reasons and areas such as air transportation, public utilities, newspaper publishing, and shipping.  Singapore is an open economy and encourages trade and investment into the country.