Doing business abroad: 2020’s top 3 countries for international expansion

This year may be the right time to expand your small business – here are three countries to keep on your radar.

If you think your business could benefit consumers outside your home country, perhaps it’s time to expand your horizons. Many successful companies reach a point where they’ve earned a sizeable share of their domestic market, which makes going global their only logical next step.

Once you’ve decided to venture abroad, you will need to conduct extensive research to determine which locations to target. This will depend on factors like what goods or services your company offers and the market it currently serves. However, there are some countries which are arguably riper for investment than others, particularly those with a strong economy, availability of talent and low start-up costs, all of which serve as good indications of a nation’s suitability. Here are three nations to think about expanding into.

1. France

The first place you should consider is conveniently close to home. One of the top five countries to invest in and the world’s sixth-largest economy, France’s economic stature alone makes it well worth investigating. In their guide on doing business in France, international language experts London Translations cite France’s world-leading electronics, manufacturing and finance sectors as a great reason for British businesses to reach out.

Home to roughly 67m citizens and offering access to the EU’s 500 million-strong single market, you shouldn’t struggle to find a customer base for your business in France either. What’s more, you can take advantage of swathes of French talent as 33.5pc of those aged 25-64 hold a degree. France’s workforce is also incredibly productive, recording an impressive £83.58 GDP per hour in 2018.

Government policy has also been favourable towards entrepreneurs in recent years, particularly under current president Emmanuel Macron, who has vowed to make France ‘the start-up nation’. This pledge has been borne out through business initiatives like the French Tech Visa, a fast-track procedure quickly providing foreign tech talent with multi-year residence permits, and the PACTE law, which has simplified business set-up procedures, and improved access to corporate financing.

2. Singapore

To bring your business into the potentially lucrative Southeast Asian market, look no further than Singapore. Consistently ranked as one of the world’s easiest places to do business, the island-city state is highly popular with foreign investors, not least because it only takes 1.5 days and two procedures to launch a business there. Furthermore, Singapore offers one of the world’s lowest corporate tax rates –peaking at just 17pc – and there is significant help available for start-ups. For example, the government’s Startup SG initiative guides businesses in attracting and retaining talent, and helps them secure funding.

The country also boasts a strong economy, ranking in a 2019 survey as the world’s most competitive thanks to its incredible infrastructure, market efficiency and skilled workforce. In fact, it was the only Asian nation to make the top 10 most competitive countries for talent, according to rankings by Swiss business school, IMD. Singapore scored well for quality of education, its high number of science graduates and the ability of workers to solve real-world problems. Beyond its talented workforce, Singapore is also in the heart of Southeast Asia, close to massive markets like India, while sectors like financial technology, health and fitness and the medical industry are all growing significantly.

3. India

With the world’s second-fastest-growing economy behind China and the fifth-largest overall, India should definitely be on your shortlist for business expansion. In fact, according to a study by CEO World Magazine, the country was one the world’s top ten countries to invest in during 2019, especially in sectors like manufacturing, services and food processing. And with over 17pc of the world’s population living in India, your business can sell to a massive market, and has access to plenty of talented potential employees.

India is known for being extremely business-friendly, with a range of schemes aimed at helping its companies. These include a number of tax benefits, like cutting the corporate tax rate from 30pc to 22pc in late 2019, while non-venture capital funding is also eligible for tax exemption.

For smaller businesses, India is home to over 300 incubators and accelerators, while recent reforms have made it easier than ever to launch a business. For example, in 2018 the Indian government abolished filing fees for setting up a company electronically, and amalgamated multiple application forms into one.

Written by London Translations, a professional translation and interpretation agency working across all industries, translating in over 140 languages.

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