I have traveled to just about every major country in Asia, and one of the questions I am frequently asked is which one I like the best. That’s a tough question, because every country is wonderful in its own way.
The history and charm of Beijing, the sugar sand beaches of the Philippines, the stunning views of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong, or the spicy-hot-but-oh-so-delicious food of Thailand are simply amazing.
I’ll always be partial to Japan because I was born there, but from a business and investment perspective, Singapore is hands down the most exciting part of Asia. Singapore has an unmatched combination of modern comforts, sophistication, corporate transparency, and an energetic enthusiasm for commerce.
In fact, I am writing this from Singapore, in between meetings with business and government leaders in my search for another investment home run.
Small in Size but Huge in Commerce
With a population of around 5.4 million, the country generates a per capita gross domestic product of $55,182, one of the highest per capita GDPs in Asia, trailing only Hong Kong and Japan. It also has a sky-high literacy rate of 95% and one of the highest standards of living in Asia.
Singapore has accomplished that by concentrating its manufacturing base on higher-value-added industries like financial services, biomedical research, technology, and oil refining. Many big corporations—American Express, AIG, Boeing, Cargill, Dell, ExxonMobil, Ford, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Merck, you name it—have significant operations in Singapore.
Even though Singapore is halfway across the globe, it is easy for US investors to invest in the country’s growth through the iShares MSCI Singapore Index Fund (EWS).
The Singapore ETF is heavily weighted in the financial sector; more than half of the fund’s total, including Singapore’s banking heavyweight DBS.