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The business hub of Southeast Asia: Hong Kong vs Singapore?

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The two powerhouses boast tax-friendly policies, quick and easy company set up procedures and excellent infrastructure, making both incredibly attractive for businesses looking to make waves in Southeast Asia.

For decades now, Hong Kong and Singapore have fought between each other to be crowned the best place to do business. The two powerhouses boast tax-friendly policies, quick and easy company set up procedures and excellent infrastructure, making both incredibly attractive for businesses looking to make waves in Southeast Asia.

While Hong Kong is longer established as a hotbed for business, it has recently become more focused on serving a rapidly-growing Chinese economy. This has in some ways allowed Singapore an advantage in the race to become the hub for companies’ Asia-Pacific operations. 

But what are the benefits of both for businesses and business travellers alike? 

Location 
If you’re looking to break into the Asian market, both cities provide an excellent base with easy access by flight to much of the continent – as well as the two best international airports in the world. 

If your focus is on China, then Hong Kong is the place to be. Situated on the countries’ southeast coast, business travellers can visit the likes of Beijing and Shanghai and still get back to their accommodation within the same day.

If international trade is your business, Singapore has recently overtaken Hong Kong to boast the world’s busiest port.

Ease of Business
Both Hong Kong and Singapore are recognised as being easy places to set up a business and get to work – within one to three days in fact.

Business friendly tax systems and open immigration policies lure foreign investors to both settings, though Singapore just scrapes it when it comes to speed of enforcing contracts and registering company properties. 

Quality of Life
Wherever you’re doing business, it’s important to maintain a work-life balance while feeling comfortable in your surroundings. Many favour Singapore for its more cosmopolitan feel, increased lifestyle opportunities and less polluted airspace. 

With English widely spoken, Singapore is also seen as being easier for Westerners to adapt to in contrast to the predominantly Chinese and Mandarin speaking city of Hong Kong. Business travellers with an appetite are also more likely to find a wider variety of cuisines available in Singapore.  

Rental accommodation is seen as being more affordable in Singapore too, with high-quality serviced apartments available from the likes of Silver Door being enough to make any visitor feel at home. 

The Verdict 
Both cities offer plenty to satisfy any business traveller touching down on its turf. With around 37,400 international companies choosing to base their Asian operations in the city-state however, it appears Singapore has edged ahead in the race to be seen as the business hub of Southeast Asia.

That’s not to say you should rule Hong Kong out though. If you’re aiming to break into the Chinese market in particular, the city may be the gateway your business needs.

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