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iStock 1323510522
iStock 1323510522

Study reveals the top 20 countries for expanding a business overseas


Global HR and payroll company Remote analysed and ranked 100 countries with the largest GDPs in the world based on metrics such as annual GDP growth rate, labour productivity, the costs involved with launching a business there, and more.

Recent data shows that nearly half of company CFOs are currently in the process of expanding their business to overseas markets, or planning to do so soon. As well as capturing a greater market share, global expansion can provide companies with many additional benefits such as increased brand exposure, new investment opportunities, and fresh talent acquisition from around the world.

Expanding to a new location will also affect the taxes, zoning laws and regulations that a business will be subject to. To help business owners understand where the most attractive opportunities lie, Remote analysed the world’s largest business hubs to create the global expansion index – a worldwide ranking of the best countries for enterprise expansion. 

Revealed: The top 10 countries supporting global enterprise expansion

To reveal the top countries for expanding your business internationally, Remote analysed 100 countries with the largest GDPs in the world against 10 relevant expansion metrics. This included the annual GDP growth rate, number of startups, corporate tax rate, labour productivity and the time and costs required to start a business to name a few.

The table below shows the top 10 countries ranked by their overall ‘Global Expansion’ score out of 10. 

Rank Country Capital City GDP annual growth rate (%) Number of start-ups The tax on the profits of a corporation (%) Number of tax payments each year Access to the internet: Average broadband speed (Mbps) Time required to start a business (days) Labour productivity: GDP per hour worked Time required to register a property (days) Cost to start a business (£) Time taken to resolve a commercial dispute (days) Global Expansion Score (out of 10)
1 United States Washington 5.7 73,553 21.0% 11 203.81 4 70.60 15 £633 444 8.05
2 Singapore Singapore 7.6 1,062 17.0% 5 255.83 2 73.70 4.5 £208 164 7.82
3 Ireland Dublin 13.5 452 12.5% 9 122.55 11 122.20 31.5 £75 650 7.47
4 Denmark Copenhagen 4.7 413 22.0% 10 227.91 4 66.50 4 £96 485 7.26
5 Hungary Budapest 7.1 309 9.0% 11 210.55 7 35.90 17.5 £322 605 7.17
6 Luxembourg Luxembourg 6.9 78 24.9% 23 172.05 17 128.10 26.5 £1,172 321 7.17
7 Romania Bucharest 5.9 263 16.0% 14 232.17 20 35.10 14.5 £33 512 7.08
8 Switzerland Bern 3.7 760 14.9% 19 229.96 10 69.70 16 £1,277 598 7.07
9 Sweden Stockholm 4.8 705 20.6% 6 174.90 8 59.80 7 £226 483 7.06
10 Hong Kong Hong Kong 6.4 392 16.5% 3 254.70 2 27.5 £451 385 7.05

The United States is the top country for global enterprise expansion, followed by Singapore and Ireland

The United States ranked at the top of the global expansion index, revealing it as the best country for businesses looking to expand overseas. The US has by far the highest number of start-ups out of all countries we analysed at 73,553; to put this into perspective, the second highest number was 14,667 in India – nearly 60,000 less.

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The US also has one of the shortest times required to start a business at just 4 days, along with a fairly reasonable average cost of £633 (though this is the highest cost of all the top five countries on the list).

The second location on the list is Singapore, a small country in Southeast Asia with a very big business output. Singapore actually has a higher annual growth rate than the US (7.6% vs America’s 5.7%), as well as less tax on profits (17% vs 21%) and fewer tax payments made in a year (5 vs 11). It also has the fastest broadband speed on the list at 255.83 Mbps, and a low average cost of just £208 to start a business.

Additionally, Singapore currently lists 1,062 start-ups – which is still a very impressive number, despite paling in comparison to the number in the US. 

Ireland takes the third spot on our list, with the greatest annual growth rate of all countries in the top 20 (13.5%). It has far fewer start-ups than the US or Singapore with only 452, but also has one of the lowest tax rates of all countries (12.5%) and a very low average cost of just £75 to set up a business.

Launching a business in Venezuela takes an average of 230 days the longest amount of all the countries researched

Venezuela placed at the very bottom of our list, ranking as the country where it takes the longest amount of time to start a business at an average of 230 days. When compared to countries like New Zealand and Singapore where it takes just a day or two to get a business going, this is definitely less than ideal.

United Arab Emirates is the most expensive country to launch a business in

When it comes to costs, the United Arab Emirates received the lowest score thanks to its very expensive £6,497 price to start a business. Italy, Qatar, Lebanon and Austria also recorded very high business start-up costs, all costing between £1,700 and £4,400. 


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