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Soft Power 30 Global Report names Singapore the world’s best performer for enterprise for the third consecutive year

The Soft Power 30 index, initially launched in 2015, is a global ranking report that measures a country’s soft power via objective data on six categories, such as government and culture, and international polling on seven other indicators. It was produced by communications consultancy Portland in partnership with the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy.

Singapore placed 21st among 30 countries in terms of soft power yesterday in the annual ranking report. Singapore received an overall score of 62.44.

Among the categories, Singapore was the best performer for enterprise for the third consecutive year. The report’s Enterprise sub-index seeks to capture the appeal of a country’s business model, its capacity for innovation, and regulatory framework. Singapore topped the sub-index for the third year in a row, maintaining its lead on close competitor, Switzerland, which ranks second. This is an impressive feat for the city-state and often attributed to its economic competitiveness and favourable business environment. With one of the lowest rates of corruption and a highly skilled workforce, it is no surprise that both global giants and start-ups choose to set up their Asian headquarters, as well as R&D facilities in Singapore. That being said, Singapore also performs well in metrics for innovation and posts the highest proportion of high-tech exports.

Singapore also rose to the seventh position in the digital category, which assesses various metrics such as a country’s digital connectivity. In The Asia Soft Power 10 section of the report, Singapore places 3rd after Japan (1st) and South Korea (2nd). The report highlights that in the past year Singapore has improved performances in the Engagement and Culture sub-indices and stated that, even though Singapore has slipped one place, it needn’t be too concerned.

Singapore, a high-tech city-state continues to top the Enterprise sub-index and is widely considered the Asian financial hub of choice due to its favourable business conditions, rule of law, and innovation-fostering environment.

The report shows that Singapore has also performed well in the Digital sub-index, helped by its excellent digital infrastructure, efficient government online services, and “Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s savvy use of social media”. The country, however, was ranked lower in the other categories of government (23rd), education (23rd), engagement (30th) and culture (28th). According to the report, Singapore’s small size presents itself as a limiting factor, hindering its ability to perform in the Engagement and Culture sub-indices, making its use of digital diplomacy even more important. However, with Singapore having taken over the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN this year, it has “leveraged its digital expertise to great effect, launching the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, and highlighting its role in bringing prosperity and stability to the region”. The ASEAN chairmanship has given Singapore the unique opportunity to shape its international role in bringing prosperity and stability to the region, and it should ensure that its diplomatic efforts are matched by digital efforts.

Singapore’s extensive efforts to showcase the young nation’s diverse cultural offering have yet to be reflected in the international polling. Moreover, its diplomatic footprint remains small, again, the report places specific emphasis on the need for the country to employ more emphatic digital diplomacy strategies.  

“Building on the momentum of the Singapore Summit and the ASEAN chairmanship, Singapore should leverage its reputation as a trusted and effective government to establish its role as a neutral and fair arbiter,” it said. 

Describing Singapore as an "inspiring example" of how small countries can “carry global influence through attraction and persuasion”, Mr Jonathan McClory, Portland’s general manager for Asia and author of the report, said: “Amidst a shifting geopolitical landscape, Singapore has real opportunities ahead to elevate its profile in international diplomacy and global affairs.” 

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