Singapore may well be considered to be at the heart of Asian commerce. It's little wonder robust Singaporean companies are poised to explore options eslewhere in the Asia-Pacific. This requires the right business and tax advisory support - you need to know both the challenges and opportunities inherent to markets such as those in Australia and Korea.

Singpapore's Status as an Economic Beacon

It is no accident that Singapore is home to companies ready to take on the challenges of FDI and foreign markets. Since the 1960's, its economy has told the story of radical transformation. From a labour intensive economy burdened by high unemployment, the nation developed capital intensive industries and as such saw a boom of engineering and material production in the 1980s. The increased foreign investment saw a rise in the standard of living and skills-base, and saw the rise of local companies, modern infrastructure, and an ecomomic climate in the 1990s that was driven by technology. Today, Singapore is known for its committment to R&D; on the back of a strong GDP, its businesses look to lead the way in innovation and knowledge-based services.

If you are a company that, on the basis of such development, is looking to break into Australia or Korea to sell and promote goods and services, then there is strong potential partnered with specific challenges.

Australia - a standard of economic stability

Even in the midst of a current dive in house prices, Australia can be respected as a investment-friendly nation with a recent history of enduring economic stability. Partnered with this is a trend toward political stability - changes in leadership and party politics do not substantially transform the trajectories of foreign businesses and entrepreneurs operating in Australia. There is also a degree of technological infrastructure and a skilled labour force that further equips companies with a service and innovation mindset. This environment means doing business in Australia is extremely attractive to skilled entrepreneurs and innovators from Singapore, who know how to navigate the local market, a healthy R&D grant system, and labour market, while also adjusting to the tax, compliance, and regulatory landscape.

This landscape is quite different to that of Singapore and many other Asian countries. Add to this the difference in the business culture and workforce management, and you will need more than generic advice when doing business in Australia. You will need to know how to most effectively set up your Australian Business Number, Tax File Number, and GST requirements. You will need to manage staff contracts, Pay As You Go Withholding ("PAYGW"), Fair Work labour rulings, payroll and fringe benefits tax, and superannuation contributions. You will need to accurately document and report your operations according to Australia's accounting requirements and audit requirements, including possible financial statement lodgements with Australian Securities and Investments Commission. How will you manage double taxation issues and transfer pricing strategy? Tax and compliance activity requires precise and consistent expertise; business success, on the other hand, is determined by going above and beyond compliance so as to ensure the optimum structuring, tax strategy, and business planning is utilised by your business in order to make the most of its opportunities in Australia.

Korea - a leader in technological manufacturing

Korean brands grace homes, offices, and cities the world over. People recognise Samsung and Kia and Hyundai as reputable companies. Seoul is a world-class location for setting up an office with an eye to taking advantage of Korea's committment to R&D and technological production. Korea is strategically located in the heart of North-east Asia, providing businesses with an ideal gateway into the boom markets of China and Japan. The government is keen to promote FDI, creating tax and grant incentives given to high-tech iniatives, setting up foreign investment zones, and providing land and property support. These benefits, combined with its reputation as a resilient, strategic export hub, can see your business use Korea's technological manufacturing base as a platform to launch your company's services and products into the rest of Asia, and from there, to the rest of the world.

There are challenges that a typical business advisor or accountant may not know how to to overcome when doing business in Korea. The nuances of a moving from Singapore's business culture to Korea's business culture requires a tax and accounting team which has personal experiece working in both. While Korea has invested heavily in R&D and invites foreign investment, experience in needed in knowing how to best tap into to grants and incentives when doing business in Korea, while also balancing an effective tax approach. Just as in Australia, you will need to know the ins-and-outs of local company set-up, compliance, taxation, and audit regulations. You will need to have on your team advisors and tax agents who understand transfer pricing and currency issues that might come up, particularly in light of fluctuations between the markets and currencies of Korea and Singapore.

The benefit of a strong, experienced, and personal advisory team

The support you need can be hard to find simply because of the intense specialisation evident in tax, accounting, and business services. How many Singaporean tax agents will truly have long-term experience navigating the regulatory framework of Australia? How many Singaporean experts in business strategy will be fluent in managing business contacts and government bodies in Korea? Likewise, how many Korean and Australian firms, albeit set up with offices in Singapore, have genuine experience understanding the needs, culture, and challenges facing companies in Singapore? You need a CFO-level team with Asia-wide experience, who can deliver

  • tax and legal entity structuring
  • management of Australian and Korean tax and regulatory requirements
  • Assistance with accessing small business grants and incentives
  • Export and foreign market analysis
  • Employment law and payroll requirements
  • The ability to overcome cultural and language barriers
  • Accounting and bookkeeping services in Australia, Singapore, and Korea
  • Consulting engagements such as risk management workshops and business process reorganisation
  • Customer experience consulting
  • Help in launching products on the Australian and Korean market

The unique value of tax, accounting, and strategic advisors that are equally at home in Korea or Australia as they are in Singapore cannot be underestimated. In opening doors to foreign markets, you do not just want to start strong only to be stifled due to a poor understanding of regulatory nuances, compliance changes, market fluctuations, or local business or consumer culture.

The Value of Experience and Presence

Calibre's team brings over a 100 years of combined business, commercial, tax and technology market expertise to the table. As a business, we were set up not with a mind to being an Australian firm with a foot in Asia, but to have genuine presence across the Asia-Pacific. This means from our base in Sydney to our well-established office in Seoul and our presence in Singapore, we operate our local offices with business and tax experts who genuinely understand the specifics of the local compliance and financial requirements for a business to succeed. Our dedication to Singapore has seen us become adept in helping Australian and other foreign firms set up in Singapore and take advantage of its Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements, Investment Guarantee Agreements, and strong intellectual property laws. We have helped Australian entrepreneurs develop successful export strategies and utlitse the Export Market Development Grant to break in to Asia. And, perhaps most strikingly, we invest a remarkable amount of time in our clients. In Singapore, Australia, and Korea, our accountants and advisors make the effort to sit with you and your team to understand your company's specific requirements for FDI, export, and investment.

Important Disclaimer: Readers should not act solely on the basis of the material on this page. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute or convey advice. Legislation and proposals of legislation are also subject to constant change. We therefore recommend that formal advice be sought before acting in any of the areas. This news article is issued as a guide to the readers. Calibre Business Advisory Pty Ltd and its associated entities disclaims any losses that may be incurred as a result of the reader undertaking any action based on this article.

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