Country Comparisons for Doing Business

We summarized factors to consider when starting a new business or relocation of your business activities in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.

(i) Industry Composition. Industry composition determines which industries are the main drivers and key clusters within the local economy.

(ii) GDP Growth. 10-year GDP annual growth rate average at a glance:

(iii) Political Stability. Comparisons based on Political Stability Index 2018. In this scale, the higher the value, the more stable the country.

(iv) Foreign Ownership. How much ownership of a company can a foreigner have?

(v) Corporate Tax Regime. We look at corporate tax rates and exemptions for locally incorporated companies in each of the 4 economies:


Exemptions: Newly incorporated Singapore-resident companies will be exempted 75% corporate income tax rate on the first SGD 100,000 taxable income, and an additional 50% for the next SGD 100,000 if they meet exemption criteria.

Hong Kong

Exemptions: Business is eligible for Offshore Profits Tax Exemption if business activities are carried entirely outside of Hong Kong SAR, i.e. no physical office, purchases, customers, investments or bank facilities in Hong Kong.


Corporate Tax Rate: 24%; companies with paid up capital of RM 2.5 million or less can enjoy corporate tax rate of 18% for the first RM 500,000 and 24% in excess of RM 500,000.

Exemptions: Corporations are taxed on income derived from Malaysia. Foreign-source income is therefore exempted from any taxation, except in the following business activities: banking, insurance, air transport or shipping.

In addition, companies that qualify for Pioneer Status can enjoy up to 70% of statutory income that is granted to companies participating in promoted activities or producing promoted products for a period of 5 to 10 years.


Exemptions: Certain small and medium-sized limited companies are subjected to lower progressive rates, up to a certain amount of net taxable profits.

Tax holidays from three to eight years are available for business activities promoted by the Board of Investment (BOI). The BOI promotes investments that enhance Thailand’s competitiveness by encouraging R&D, cutting edge technology adoption and innovation and value creation in agricultural, industrial and services sectors, encourage investments in border provinces in Southern Thailand as well as special economic zones in Thailand.

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