Taking your business to a global level is an exciting new opportunity. But there are 195 countries in the world – and not all of them will be a good fit for your business.
Tax regulations for companies, flexibility around scaling your business, and local labor laws differ greatly around the world, and these rules can make or break your international expansion.
That’s why you should do intensive market research about your location of choice before you make a decision, and take factors like GDP, growth rates and tax laws into account.
With these things in mind, let’s take a look at the top 9 countries for international expansion.
Please note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we included numbers for GDP and GDP growth from 2019 as well as 2020. All data is sourced from countryeconomy.com.
- Population: 5.8 million (2020)
- GDP: $374 billion (2019) | $379 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: 0.7% (2019) | -3.5% (2020)
Singapore is not just the first on our list, but also topped the 2020 Global Expansion Tech Index. The index scores factors such as complexity of the regulatory landscape, the availability of skills, infrastructure, and GDP growth of countries.
Other factors that make Singapore such a desirable location for international expansion is it’s political stability and the closeness to potential other neighbouring Asian markets, including Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
In addition to that, low corporate taxes and low complexity when it comes to setting up a business attract a lot of foreign investors. All of this combined makes Singapore one of the most attractive locations for international expansions.
Learn more about Singapore in our Global Hiring Guide
- Population: 5.79 million (2020)
- GDP: $350 billion (2019) | $353 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: 2.1% (2019) | -2.1% (2020)
Denmark is another high ranking country in the Global Expansion Tech Index, even surpassing the United States in the 2020 report and securing the second spot on the list right after Singapore.
The reasons for Denmark’s high ranking are the high standard of living, low unemployment rates, availability of skills, and moderate inflation – which is why the nordic state also has one of the most stable economies in the European Union.
Keep in mind though that even though Denmark is part of the EU, it does not participate in the European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), meaning the Danes still have their own currency, the krone.
Other challenges include rather high tax rates as well as high wages and low working hours, with some companies even introducing a 30-hour work week.
Learn more about Denmark in our Global Hiring Guide
- Population: 4.9 million (2020)
- GDP: $398 billion (2019) | $418 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: 4.9% (2019) | 5.9% (2020)
Even though Ireland is rather small compared to its neighbour Great Britain, the island has one of the most attractive markets in the world. Tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft have all chosen Ireland for their European headquarters due to their comparably low tax rates as well as access to secure servers.
But the previous two years have also seen a spike of inward investments, and with almost % GDP growth in the COVID-ridden year of 2020, it is safe to say Ireland’s economy is looking as bright as ever.
Learn more about Ireland in our Global Hiring Guide
- Population: 17.1 million (2020)
- GDP: $907 billion (2019) | $913 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: 2.0% (2019) | -3.8% (2020)
Another rather small European country on our list is the Netherlands. Even though the Western European nation is comparably small in size and population, it serves as one of the biggest hubs of the European continent. In fact, its central location allows for access to 95% of Europe within just 24 hours.
But that is not the only reason why you should consider the Netherlands for your global expansion. The country has one of the lowest tax rates in Europe and actually holds the most tax treaties to avoid double taxation in the world.
Coupled with the widespread use of the English language, a highly educated labor force, and the stable political climate, the Netherlands are a real contender for global expansion.
Learn more about Netherlands in our Global Hiring Guide
- Population: 83.7 million (2020)
- GDP: $3,861 billion (2019) | $3,803 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: 0.6% (2019) | -4.8% (2020)
With their stable economy and highly educated workforce, Germany is most definitely worth considering for international expansion. The central European country also boasts an incredibly high GDP and is one of the world’s leading exporters, making it a very desirable place to live and work.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the German economy down a fair bit, and in addition with rather high tax rates and high regulatory complexity, especially for setting up a business, we definitely recommend getting help if you want to expand into the Germany.
Learn more about Germany in our Global Hiring Guide
- Population: 331 million (2020)
- GDP: $21,433 billion (2019) | $20,936 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: 2.2% (2019) | -3.5% (2020)
The United States is one of the world’s biggest economies, and provides a lot of opportunity for businesses seeking to expand into the American market. Offering a rich talent pool as well as an easy environment for start-up and new businesses, it is no surprise that the US is ranking in fourth place in the Global Expansion Tech Index.
2020 has shown us, though, that even the world’s largest economies are not safe from political uproar. Combined with the ongoing trade war between China and the United States, there are some potential risks involved in setting up a business in the US.
Learn more about the USA in our Global Hiring Guide
7. New Zealand
- Population: 4.8 million (2020)
- GDP: $210.2 billion (2019) | $209.3 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: 2.0% (2019) | -1.1% (2020)
Another surprisingly small country on our list is New Zealand. The island state only has 4.8 million inhabitants, yet manages to secure impressive growth and a relatively high GDP. But that’s not the only reason we chose New Zealand for our list:
There are no taxes for capital gains and the regulatory environment for starting and operating a new company is very business-friendly.
Learn more about New Zealand in our Global Hiring Guide
- Population: 128.9million (2020)
- GDP: $1,268 billion (2019) | $1,076 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: -0.1% (2019) | -8.2% (2020)
Mexico is the first Central American country on our list, but it’s quickly becoming an international hot spot for global business expansions. This is due to their high GDP as well as a large yet affordable workforce. Furthermore, Mexico holds more free trade agreements than any other country in the world!
One thing to consider before your global expansion though is the bad economic response to the COVID-19 pandemic the country has had, recording a negative growth rate of -8.2% in 2020. But given the global situation with the virus outbreak, there is a lot of hope the Mexican economy will find its way back to the top soon.
Learn more about Mexico in our Global Hiring Guide
- Population: 46.7 million (2020)
- GDP: $1,393 billion (2019) | $1,278 billion (2020)
- GDP Growth: 2.0% (2019) | -10.8% (2020)
Finally, the Southern European country of Spain should not be forgotten when thinking about international expansions. Due to its location, the country offers access to not only the European market, but also North Africa.
Coupled with many long-standing trade relationships that reach as far as the Middle East and South America, Spain has had some impressive growth over the last years.
If you contribute to the Spanish economy, there are also a lot of incentives from the government including low tax rates and potential investments.
Learn more about Spain in our Global Hiring Guide