Singapore - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges

Learn about barriers to market entry and local requirements, i.e., things to be aware of when entering the market for this country.

Last published date: 2020-09-16

Singapore is a free port as more than 99% of all imports enter Singapore duty-free.  For social and/or environmental reasons, it levies high excise taxes on distilled spirits and wine, tobacco products, motor vehicles, and gasoline.  Competition with global suppliers is a key challenge for American companies operating in Singapore.  As the nation continues to restructure its economy, U.S. companies doing business in the city-state can expect increased operating costs and continued tightening availability of foreign labor resulting from the COVID pandemic. 

U.S. companies face technical import barriers for beef, pork and poultry products, and services barriers that include restrictions on the use of satellite dishes, direct-to-home satellite TV services, paid television subscriptions, legal, banking, and healthcare services.  Details on these trade barriers can be found in the USTR 2020 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented new challenges to Singapore in addition to issues such as an aging workforce, maturing economy, growing influence of social media, and increasing competition from other trade agreements and ASEAN partners.  To counter the new challenges, the Singapore Government has established the Emerging Stronger Taskforce to work closely with the Future Economy Council to identify the risks and threats to be addressed in each sector of Singapore’s economy, and provide recommendations to the Future Economy Council on a post-COVID-19 economy.  The aim is to review how Singapore will stay economically resilient and build new sources of dynamism in a post-COVID world.