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ASEAN: The New Front Line in Asia

Posted January 30, 2015

Under Economic Issues, International Trade Issues

(Damian Chan – Singapore Economic Development Board)

On the heels of the US-ASEAN summit in Myanmar, manufacturers are considering ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) to be a much closer horizon for business opportunities compared to other economic goliaths in the region.

In fact, the ASEAN-5 (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) has been attracting more businesses than China, with about $128 billion in foreign direct investments, overtaking that of China’s $117 billion in 2013.

This year’s plans for economic integration throughout ASEAN should further grow the strategic importance of the 10-member collective as it will further open up trade, make commerce across the region more seamless, and come closer to being a single market of more than 600 million people.

While market entry into Asia is not without significant challenges, multinational companies have found that they can adapt their business strategies to Asia’s complex and diverse business landscape by investing in local hubs. This recognition comes at a critical juncture, when higher wages and currency appreciation in China are prompting companies to look elsewhere. ASEAN stands to benefit from this, with each nation offering a unique value proposition be it advanced technological innovation, an abundant labor force, or a growing shift towards more high-skilled industries. Click here to read more.