Doing business - Singapore vs Netherlands

Singapore and the Netherlands have had a deep and rich history dating back four centuries. The two countries have since strengthened cross-border trade as they continue to share strong economic ties and a similar global outlook.

This article is a comparative analysis between Singapore and Netherlands across various business indicators.

Business Environment

  • Singapore is an important trading partner with Netherland and the European Union (EU). Much of it is due to the business-friendly environment in the country. Washington think-tank, The Heritage Foundation, ranks Singapore 2nd globally in terms of economic freedom and opportunity. The Netherlands is ranked 13th on the same index. 


  • Tax laws may be complex in most countries, but this comparison could be helpful for Dutch companies looking to set up businesses in Singapore. The Netherlands top tax rate is 52%, while Singapore is at 22%. 
  • Singapore’s bilateral tax treaty with Netherlands has been amended recently to resolve cross-border tax disputes and counter tax avoidance by multinational companies (MNCs). The two countries ratified the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (MLI). 
  • The MLI is a multilateral tax treaty created in 2015 that is designed to allow countries to swiftly amend their tax treaties to implement the tax treaty related to the OECD/G20 base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) outcomes.

Intellectual property protection

  • Singapore provides one of the world’s most robust regimes for the protection of intellectual property (IP), and is equipped with effective enforcement. In terms of IP protection, Singapore ranks third in the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Competitive Index 4.0 Report, while the Netherlands reigns its spot at fifth place. 

Global competitiveness

  • Singapore’s global outlook has seen it rank highly in terms of economic competitiveness versus other global cities. In the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Competitiveness Report, Singapore is in the second place while the Netherlands is ranked at the sixth spot.

Openness to Trade 

  • Ranking first on the global rankings based on the World Economic Forum’s 2018 Global Competitiveness Report’s sub-category, Trade Openness, is Singapore. With world-class transport infrastructure, services and connectivity, these unique features lead the trade openness component in Singapore. The Netherlands comes in at the seventh spot. 


  • Singapore’s bureaucracy is the most efficient among its Asian peers according to Hong Kong-based Political & Economic Risk Consultancy, ahead of Hong Kong and South Korea. The World Bank defines “government effectiveness” as “the quality of public service provision, the quality of the bureaucracy, the competence of civil servants, the independence of the civil service from political pressures, and the credibility of the government’s commitment to policies”. According to the World Bank’s 2019 Doing Business Report, Singapore is ranked 2nd in the ease of doing business, while the Netherlands is ranked 36th.

Labour Force

  • Singapore’s highly educated workforce and continuous investment in skills upgrading ensures a high level of employment. The Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook reports a 2.2% unemployment rate in Singapore compared to 4.8% in Netherlands.  The World Bank Human Capital Index also ranks Singapore as 1st compared to Netherlands at 9th position. This newly launched index ranks 157 countries according to the outcomes they achieve in health and education. 

Living Environment

  • Singapore is ranked as the best country in the world for children to grow up in, based on the report from the End of Childhood Index 2019, published by UK-based nonprofit organisation, Save the Children. This index is based on variables such as access to education, immunisation, nutrition and healthcare. 
  • Singapore also focuses its efforts on healthy citizens to deal with a pending ageing population. The World Health Organisation’s 2016 Global Obesity Levels and Rankings show that 6.1% of adults in Singapore are obese while 20.4% of adults have that condition in the Netherlands.  Bloomberg’s Global Health Index also ranks Singapore 8th compared to the Netherlands at 15th position. 

At-a-glance country rankings: Singapore vs. Netherlands



Singapore's rank

Netherlands' rank



 Living environment for children  1  Unavailable  End of Childhood Index 2019
 2019  Healthy country  8  15  Bloomberg Global Health Index 
 2019  Economic freedom  2  13  2019 Index of Economic Freedom
 2018  Competitive economy  3  4  IMD World Competitiveness 2018
 2018  Human Capital  1  9  World Bank Human Capital Index 2018

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