Asia is the world’s most populous continent, home to approximately two-thirds of the global population.
In the last few decades, the continent has also experienced a major boom in technological and economic growth, with GDP growth in many of the region’s major companies far outstripping those of Western nations.
Many experts now estimate that the bulk of worldwide demand for consumer goods and up to half of all middle-class consumers will come from Asia by 2030.
Given Asia’s rapid rise in the international business community, numerous multinational corporations and smaller enterprises have taken steps to deepen their presence in the region.
If you’re a business owner looking to ride the wave of Asian growth, you’d do well to consider the following places as potentially productive business destinations:
Over the years, Singapore has consistently been one of the foremost choices for multinational banks, businesses and other organisations looking to establish operations in Asia.
The country’s regulatory framework is frequently hailed as one of the simplest and most efficient in the world, making it easy to register company in Singapore in just one or two working days, at minimal cost.
On top of the easy setup process it provides, a host of other factors make Singapore an ideal home for businesses of all sizes. Some of the most notable of these include a generous tax regime, business-friendly government policies and a highly stable political and economic landscape.
Singapore is also favoured for its highly strategic geographical location and superior connectivity by sea and air, which give entrepreneurs easy access to other emerging markets throughout Asia.
Business owners who choose to set up shop in Singapore will be able to tap into a highly skilled, multilingual and well-educated pool of talent no matter their industry.
Singaporean professionals are known for being highly motivated, industrious and enterprising individuals who have been trained to value excellence and thrive in challenging situations.
English is also the lingua franca in educational and professional settings throughout the country, facilitating integration for foreign companies.
Malaysia, particularly its capital city Kuala Lumpur, is rapidly evolving into one of Asia’s more popular financial hubs.
Its main economic drivers are knowledge-based services and technology, with the bulk of government initiatives to drive foreign investment focused on these two industries.
Businesses in these sectors can avail themselves of generous state-sponsored benefits such as funding grants and tax incentives.
Like Singapore, Malaysia is advantageously located in relation to the rest of Asia. The country’s high-speed railway makes seven stops throughout the country and even connects Singapore to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia is also home to a world-renowned airport and seaport that help facilitate entrepreneurs’ seamless travel throughout Asia and onto other parts of the world.
Lastly, Malaysia’s status as a member of the ASEAN enhances connectivity even further and also expands the consumer market for businesses based in the country.
Following the major government reforms it underwent in 2014, Thailand has worked to drive economic growth and implement business-friendly policies to encourage foreign investment in the country.
The government even provides tax incentives to businesses in certain priority sectors such as research and development.
The country now enjoys relatively low unemployment, inflation rates, and a highly productive population of middle-class professionals, which make for a relatively stable economy.
Foreign companies should have little difficulty incorporating in Thailand as, while Thai remains the country’s official language, English is regarded as the major spoken business language.
Many of Thailand’s major universities teach Business English and generate a myriad of competent, globally minded and highly skilled graduates each year.
Despite the lingering effects of social and political unrest over the last few years, Hong Kong’s economy has remained exceptionally competitive, attracting many businesses with expansion plans in Asia, particularly UK- and US-based technology firms.
By the end of 2019, in fact, Hong Kong had been ranked third in the entire world for ease of doing business. Direct foreign investment in the country was also noted to be at a record high, accounting for up to 23.8% of the regional GDP.
Hong Kong has historically maintained a healthy environment for business compliance and has even been named the third-best country in the world for regulatory performance.
Its robust economy is driven primarily by free trade principles, and the territory boasts a simple taxation system with relatively low tax rates, including a fixed corporate tax of 16.5%.
South Korea’s superior internet speeds and high levels of mobile penetration make it an ideal business environment, especially for startups and expanding enterprises. Since 2012, the country’s government has fostered a thriving startup scene that includes thousands of highly valued emerging businesses.
The capital city of Seoul, in particular, is home to a vibrant tech ecosystem that attracts tech entrepreneurs, researchers, and other leaders from a plethora of different industries.
South Korea is also notably progressive in terms of its regulatory environment. The government generally welcomes foreign investment and does not levy any mandatory post-registration fees for companies seeking to set up operations in the country.
Businesses in South Korea also tend to enjoy a high level of economic freedom with minimal government intervention.
Many of Asia’s best-performing economies are located in countries that are exceptionally welcoming to foreign investment.
Intrepid entrepreneurs would do well to take advantage of these hospitable conditions to establish a foothold in the region and capitalise on the abundant talent and opportunities Asia has to offer.