Understanding the Singapore customs and trade environment

Singapore is consistently ranked by the WTO and other global institutions as one of the easiest countries in the world in which to do business.  The international trade environment fostered by the Singapore government is open, transparent, and facilitative. Singapore is used by many companies as a logistics hub.  Consequently, many of the customs and trade challenges faced by companies are to do with managing transit, transshipment and temporary importation.

Singapore Customs offers a wide range of programmes to importers and exporters designed to allow them to conduct their trading operations in an efficient, low-cost, and compliant manner. The TradeFIRST assessment program has been recently introduced; applying a common set of compliance criteria to allow Singapore Customs to assess the eligibility of businesses for the various facilitation programs.   

Singapore has negotiated a wide network of Free Trade Agreements, Mutual Recognition Agreements, and other cooperative agreements.  These agreements offer Singapore based exporters’ customs duty savings and preferential treatment for their goods in countries throughout Asia and beyond.

Although very few categories of goods are subject to duties in Singapore (only four categories of goods attract duty: intoxicating liquors, tobacco products, petroleum products, and automobiles), Singapore Customs and the other Agencies involved in import and export do take trade compliance matters seriously. Importers are expected to properly classify and value their goods and obtain any required licenses regardless of whether or not they attract duty.  Exporters are expected to fully comply with the Strategic Good (Control) Act regulating exports of dual-use and military goods and technology.