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How to Take Part in Singapore’s Global Trader Programme

SG Global Trader Scheme

What Is the Global Trader Programme?

The Global Trader Programme was launched in June 2001. Companies who are in the Global Trader Programme (commonly abbreviated to GTP) enjoy a concessionary tax rate of 10% on their qualifying trade income. GTP companies get the concessionary tax rate for a 5-year renewable period.

In 2003, an announcement was made by the Singapore Government: international trading companies that are of a medium size and enjoying high growth, who are planning to make Singapore their regional base can be considered for the 10% concessionary tax rate, for a starting, non-renewable 3-year period. In those 3 years, with Singapore as their base of operations, it is expected that the trading company in question establishes and builds up their regional/global trading network. After this initial 3-year period, if the company has been able to demonstrate healthy and sustainable growth projections, in line with the requirements of the Global Trader Programme, they can then apply for the 5-year renewable Global Trader Programme scheme.

What Is the purpose of the Global Trader Programme?

The GTP was created as an incentive to global trading companies, an encouragement to choose Singapore as their regional or global base for conducting business activities all along the total trade value-add chain, ranging from the procurement stage to the distribution stage, with the intention of expanding into the region and beyond.

Who Actually Administers the Global Trader Programme?

The Global Trader Programme was launched by International Enterprise Singapore. IE Singapore is an agency under Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry; its mission is to oversee and promote the growth of Singapore-based enterprises overseas, as well as improve and encourage international trade by promoting Singapore as a viable global base for foreign business, helping these foreign businesses expand into the region, and doing that by going into partnership with Singapore-based companies.

So Is Singapore a Good Place to Base a Trading Company?

Singapore is a big player in the import/export trade market – with its strategic position in Southeast Asia, many see it as connecting both the eastern and western hemispheres in terms of trade. This dominance is clearly reflected in Singapore’s many state-of-the-art import/export services and procedures, as well as its connections to hundreds of ports all around the world.

So Is the Global Trader Programme a Success?

It does appear to have enjoyed a good amount of success, yes. The GTP has attracted a robust group of global trading companies over the years, companies that have decided to make Singapore the hub of their strategic business functions. Today, it is estimated that more than 270 global trading companies have made Singapore their regional/global base of operations. Some of these include Shell, BP, China’s Tianbao Petroleum and the Hong Kong-based Noble Group (which is one Asia’s biggest commodity groups).

So What Criteria Does My Company Need to Fulfill in order to Join the Global Trader Programme?

You can apply to join the Singapore’s Global Trader Programme if:

1. You are a well-established medium or large-sized international company, and you conduct international trading, procurement, distribution and the transportation of qualifying commodities and products (see below for details).

2. You are a bone fide company with a global network, and possessing a good track record.

3. You intend to make Singapore your regional base for your principal offshore trading activities, business activities and support functions, which would include:

  • Market development and planning
  • Business and investment planning and coordination.
  • Logistics management (freight services, warehouse, etc.)
  • Financial and treasury functions
  • General and administrative management

4. You ensure that you will be:

  • Principally conducting substantial offshore trading activities.
  • Incurring a significant amount of local business spending in Singapore.
  • Making significant usage of Singapore’s banking and financial services as well as its ancillary services (e.g. trade institutes, trade and logistics services and trade arbitration services, and so on).
  • Employing a good number of experienced trading professionals in Singapore.
  • Provide manpower training and aid to the development of trading expertise in Singapore.

Benchmark Criteria:

In addition to the points mentioned above, any company that applies to the Global Trader Programme is required to meet the benchmarks listed below:

  • Minimum Annual Turnover: USD 100 million
  • Minimum Annual Local Business Spending: SGD 3 million.
  • Minimum trading professionals employed: 3 trading professionals. They have to be involved in one of these: risk management, procurement/sourcing or sales & marketing. These 3 professionals may be senior management and can be Singaporeans or expatriates.

If the company applying to the GTP does not meet these benchmarks, it will be required to show that it can commit to these benchmarks in the projected incentive period.

Important Note: When applying to join the Global Trader Programme, the authorities will be going through the overall business plan with intense scrutiny. What they are looking for in your business plan is whether your company will be making significant contribution to the Singapore economy.

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Qualifying commodities, physical trade and transactions under the GTP you should be aware of:

There is a list of products and commodities allowed under the GTP. The authorities periodically review and update this list. The current list includes these products and commodities:

  • Electronic and electrical products.
  • Consumer products.
  • Building and Industrial materials.
  • Industrial products.
  • Energy commodities and products.
  • Agricultural commodities and bulk edible products
  • Minerals
  • Machinery components

The following types of physical trade are the only ones that quality under the GTP:

  • Trans-Shipment Trade
  • Offshore Trade
  • Re-Export Trade (only the non-value added portion of the trades qualify)

When it comes to transactions that qualify under the GTP, your company is allowed engage in principal trades, both buy and sell transactions, with offshore parties or other companies under the GTP.

Singapore Global Trader Scheme FAQs

How to claim for tax exemption?2020-06-25T10:45:29+08:00

You are required to make a declaration in your income tax returns by giving the nature and amount of the foreign-sourced income that was remitted to Singapore. You are also required to complete the Declaration Form for Foreign-Sourced Income Received in Singapore From 22 Jan 2009 to 21 Jan 2010 (60KB) for submission to IRAS. Although you have to state the use of the foreign income in the declaration form, the usage of such foreign income will not affect the claim for tax exemption.

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