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Singapore Serves As French SMEs’ Gateway to Asia

Investing in Asia won’t be so hard anymore for small and medium enterprises in France, as they can always use Singapore as a stepping stone to business expansion in the region.

By installing their headquarters in Singapore, French businesses can seek more business growth in Asia especially in nearby Southeast Asian economies such as Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand that have all enjoyed tremendous growth as compared to their US and European counterparts. French companies also have the opportunity to break through the Chinese market, which has enjoyed a 7.4% GDP growth during Q3 of this year.

Expanding in France is no longer an attractive option for French businesses as opposed to doing business in Singapore. According to a recent report by the World Bank, Singapore ranks first on the list of the countries where it’s easy to do business while France ranks 26th on the list. Moreover, Singapore ranks fourth on the list of countries where it’s easy to pay taxes while France ranks way behind at the 55th spot.

French companies can expect more ease in doing business in Singapore following the ratification of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, which is currently being reviewed by the European Union and the Singapore government.

Singapore trade and industry minister Lim Hng Kiang said that France is one of Singapore’s key trading partner in the European Union. France is also Singapore’s third largest trading partner following Asian countries China and Japan.

French investments in Singapore have been doing well in recent years and have in fact doubled in the last decade to around SG $8 billion. Bilateral trade between the two countries has meanwhile tripled during the same period, reaching SG $18.4 billion in 2011.

Currently, there are over 1,000 French companies operating in Singapore. Among the big-name French companies in the country are AXA, Air France and Michelin, and luxury goods manufacturers L’Oreal, LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennesy) and PPR (Pinault-Printemps-Redoute).