Singapore is ranked as the third most desirable country in the Asia Pacific region - and sixth in the world - by companies looking to expand their business overseas.

This is according to a report titled The art of connecting global business, which was commissioned by communication services and solutions provider BT. The report polled 1,150 business leaders across 13 regions, of which 350 respondents were from the APAC region.

The report revealed that about 41 percent of the business leaders in India indicate Singapore as an excellent destination to grow their business. Additionally, almost half of the respondents in China and India - 48 and 47 percent respectively - are in the midst of, or planning to expand into Singapore.

The respondents cited the potential customer base and affluence of citizens as the most crucial factors contributing to Singapore's high ranking. The nation's IT skills and quality of governance, as well as IT security and data protection are also recognised as top characteristics attracting businesses to grow their footprint here.

"Countries such as Singapore are regarded as highly desirable places to expand into not only because of their economic potential but the extensive digital infrastructure, skills and regulation," said Ron Totton, managing director, South East Asia, BT Global Services. "With BT's technological expertise and strong presence in the Asia Pacific region, we are well placed to help bring foreign businesses to Singapore."

Growing business overseas

According to the report, business leaders worldwide are all seeking to expand their business overseas. In fact, a significant 80 percent globally, and 76 percent in Singapore believe that international expansion is highly essential for the success of their organisation.

Specifically, 84 percent of Singaporean respondents cited growth opportunities as their main incentive for growing their business overseas. They also chose US and Hong Kong as their top desired destinations for expansion due to their potential customer base, followed by China, Indonesia and Thailand.

In addition, 91 percent of the businesses polled agree that a country that has a "digital-first" economy fosters their expansion. These "digital-first" economies refer to those that have a ubiquitous, nationwide and high speed internet connection, according to the report.

Other technology factors taken into consideration include the quality of IT infrastructure and services (62 percent), quality of digital and communications infrastructure (62 percent) and the IT skills of the workforce (52 percent).

Lastly, the lack of an adequate IT infrastructure is seen as one of the key challenges hindering overseas growth. In Singapore alone, almost all respondents (96 percent) expressed that they are hindered to some extent by the digital infrastructures of their desired markets.