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Asia and Australasia Business Ideas Continent Guides

The Best Countries in Asia to Start a Business

The business environment varies from country to country in Asia, but all of them share one thing in common: all countries provide a vast array of opportunities for innovative investors

  • The business environment varies from country to country in Asia, but all of them share one thing in common: all countries provide a vast array of opportunities for innovative investors
  • This is a neutral and realistic analysis selecting countries from a cluster based on ease of doing business ranking created by the World Bank
  • India has topped the region in many indices for over a decade and has always been a definitive source for global talented especially for English-speaking businesses
  • It is no coincidence that Facebook, Google, and Uber chose Singapore to set up their Asian Head Offices
  • Ho Chi Minh City boasts one of the highest numbers of millennials living outside the USA, setting up offices for their startup ventures

Asia is one of the top locations in the world for investors to start a business. The main advantages of starting a business in Asia include the available pool of talent and range of investment opportunities. Business in Asia is growing rapidly because of its large population size and increasing technological innovations and development. The business environment varies from country to country in Asia, but all of them share one thing in common: all countries provide a vast array of opportunities for innovative investors. So, let’s have a look at some of the best countries in Asia where you can start your new business.

This is a neutral and realistic analysis selecting countries from a cluster based on ease of doing business ranking created by the World Bank, which covers the factors below:

  • Law and Order
  • Overall Economic Scenario
  • Quality of Human Resources
  • Cost of Living
  • Business Environment
  • Banking and Commerce Infrastructure

Based on the above parameters, the following countries in Asia top the list if you plan to start a business. The countries are not listed in the ranking order because one nation might be top in workforce talent and go down in another factor.

1. Indonesia

A significant advantage of doing business in Indonesia is its business-friendly environment and quality labour force. Many workers speak English as a second language and are technically skilled in IT. Costs for building business infrastructure are not too high, such as in South Korea, nor low like in India or China. It has a reliable and robust economy that has maintained its structure rather well, even during a recession.

2. South Korea

Other than a below-average economic scenario, South Korea has the potential to be a great place to do business. It has a good workforce covering all different industries. South Korea’s greatest strength is in technological innovation. It is one of the leading countries worldwide in technological development, so it’s a great place for tech investors or entrepreneurs.

3. India

In the present global situation, India is the best place in Asia for businesses, including startups. India has topped the region in many indices for over a decade and has always been a definitive source for global talented especially for English-speaking businesses. There are more English-speaking people in the country than in the whole of the USA. The country was referred to as the ‘world’s back office’ at one point in time for having so many businesses that carried out back-office work like IT or administration.

4. Japan

The term “Japanese technology” has become a cliché throughout the world for more than four decades and continues to be so. Japan has a friendly culture and technology savvy people creating one of the most favourable atmospheres for new businesses and investors.

5. Singapore

Traditionally, Singapore has been the world’s favourite Asian destination for expats and foreigners to settle. It is no coincidence that Facebook, Google, and Uber chose Singapore to set up their Asian Head Offices. It provides low business taxes and an easy procedure for setting up a new company. The standard rate of corporate income tax in this country is 17%. Singapore has a robust economy driven by a high level of infrastructure and innovation.

6. Vietnam

The East Asian nation has been trying to develop its capital Ho Chi Minh City as a good spot for IT-based startups. The cost of living is very cheap, and salary expectations are very low. Vietnam has one of the strongest business and tourism appeals in the world. As such, Ho Chi Minh City boasts one of the highest numbers of millennials living outside the USA, setting up offices for their startup ventures.

7. The Philippines

The quality of the English language spoken by Filipinos is one of the best in Asia. Labour is talented and highly educated. The cost of living is relatively high, but the ease of doing business compensates for that. It’s cheap and easy to set up a business, taxes are low, and the infrastructure is developing rapidly. 

8. Thailand

Best known for its hospitality and tourism spots, Thailand has quietly developed its infrastructure to cater to established businesses and startups as well. The government supports foreign companies in a big way by offering tax concessions and other financial and legal incentives that focus on free trade. Thailand also strongly promotes innovation and technology. It’s no wonder that this country is a great place of interest for all foreign investors. 

9. Hong Kong

It is only fair to give warning about Hong Kong, which until the recent events of the Chinese Security Law, was one of the best places in the world to do business. The unfortunate political unrest has mercilessly taken it out of being one of the business-friendly places. We can only hope that the island nation will return to its former business glory soon enough.

Hong Kong is often regarded as the key competitor of Singapore for its business advantages and ease of setting up and running a business. The standard rate of corporate income tax is 16%. It’s 15% for unincorporated businesses. Hong Kong links directly to mainland China and has excellent transport networks to the rest of Asia, making it easy for foreign investors to expand their operations in Asia by simply opening a branch in Hong Kong.

10. Malaysia 

Although Malaysia provides various business opportunities, there are some restrictions levied by the government which restrict businesses. You can either open a public company or a private company in Malaysia. Private companies are not allowed to transfer shares and cannot gather funding from public resources.

Final Thoughts

If businesses enter the Asian market, their chances of success will increase due to the diverse opportunities available throughout the continent. The above listed ten countries hold the key to starting up a successful enterprise. Each one is unique and a great host.

Amin Bilal is a business consultant, founder of CompanyHand.com, and content creator. He specialises in advising SMEs and large multinational corporations solve finance, operational, and technological problems.

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