Business opportunities in Asean
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has emerged as a dynamic region that presents enticing business opportunities.
Asean member-countries boast of a rapidly growing consumer market and a flourishing entrepreneurial ecosystem. With its strategic location and diverse economies, the Asean region has created a favorable environment for trade and investment through advanced technology, robust manufacturing centers, developing sectors and attractive tourism destinations. Businesses have garnered opportunities to capitalize on Asean’s economic growth and tap into its immense potential.
Among the 10 member-countries of this region, the Ambassadors of Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia were invited to a panel discussion during the general membership meeting of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) on July 12, 2023 in Taguig City to share the business opportunities in their respective countries that investors and companies in the Philippines may be inspired to tap into.
The countries’ representatives actively seek investments to foster sustainable growth, connectivity and success for businesses in a clean and secure environment.
With a population of more than 32 million and a strong trading nation ranking in 2022, Malaysia offers a substantial consumer market, having signed 16 free trade agreements and being among the signatories of important regional agreements, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Malaysia boasts of competitive high-value manufacturing business opportunities while excelling in electric and luxury products, chemical products, palm oil-based agriculture products and processed food exports.
Green technology and halal products are the main industries that Malaysia strongly highlights. For the continuous expansion of Malaysia’s halal industry, companies were encouraged to invest in its halal food manufacturing and Islamic banking. With its pro-business policies and investment incentives, a favorable environment was created for these sectors to sustain long-term success.
Despite current economic uncertainties, the country’s manufacturing sector continues to play a vital role in its economic transformation and its contribution to its export revenue and growth.
Thriving industries through various Singaporean sectors made the country a global hub for businesses, attracting multinational companies and fast-growing start-ups.
Singapore serves as a vital gateway to companies seeking multiple market strategies and commits to provide advanced manufacturing capabilities, innovation centers, open and free trade investments and significant government support.
Singapore, as the Philippines’ top source of foreign direct investment and largest trading partner in Asean, calls for a collaboration with the country to seize opportunities and enhance their relationship further. Notably, Singapore’s business-friendly environment allows for opening a business in just 15 minutes, showcasing its ease of doing business, efficiency and attractiveness for entrepreneurs.
Intra-Asean trade and investment for the Philippines were much promoted by Thailand, highlighting its investment-friendly environment, reduced trade barriers, tax incentives and supportive services for high-tech industries and agriculture technology.
The existence of the Eastern Economic Corridor serves as a one-stop service to businesses seeking consultations on suitable business types and land options. This makes investments in Thailand not only beneficial for the country but also opens opportunities in the macro region covering Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar.
Partnerships with local Thai companies can facilitate broader investments and access to the regional market. Additionally, exploring business-to-business opportunities with Thai organizations can unlock further prospects for partnerships and growth, as engaging with Thailand can lead to valuable connections and avenues for cooperation.
Earning recognition from the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development signifies that Vietnam has been successful in developing and attracting foreign investments.
Vietnam is well-positioned at the center of Southeast Asia — a dynamic region of the world where socio-political and macro-economic stability are well-maintained — inviting enormous potential on the Vietnamese consumption market helping the country increase its global standing.
Along with its dynamic economic reform, innovation and digital transformation, alongside large-scale transport in urban infrastructure projects, Vietnam also boasts of its abundant workforce that continues to be developed and reformed through vocational training.
As a large export market in the Asia-Pacific, Vietnam readies itself for the next global investment wave, providing advanced technology projects, strong reform and various business opportunities.
The Nusantara National Capital Authority of Indonesia facilitates regulations on business permits and investment facilities offering special incentives, such as land rights with a duration of 80 to 95 years.
The investment process in Nusantara follows eight steps and there has been significant interest from potential investors, with over 200 letters of intent received from various countries.
Indonesia currently has 20 special economic zones (SEZs), including the Sanur SEZ and the Kura Kura Bali (KKB) SEZ. The KKB, located in Bali, offers an integrated economic environment with SEZ status, providing incentives for investors in the tourism and creative industries as it offers opportunities in various sectors in health, innovation, marina and hospitality, among others.
Investing in KKB allows businesses to benefit from Bali’s rich historical, cultural and artistic traditions that will promote tourism in Indonesia. The SEZ status and alignment with Bali’s economic roadmap make KKB an excellent vehicle for international direct investment to drive the country’s economic development.
The Asean region continues to prominently advance business opportunities in various industries and sectors. The entry of the Fourth Industrial Revolution has prompted Asean member-countries to prepare their businesses and the economic environment by providing game-changing and innovative ideas that would stand the rapid developments in technology.
All the five countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines — called to improve intra-regional investment and trade. These not only bring economic benefit to their respective companies or their own local jurisdiction, but also foster better friendship and collaboration within the region, leading to the earlier realization of Asean’s dream of becoming a powerful regional economic bloc, one that can help shape the development of world commerce.
Our Philippine business sector is encouraged to heed this call.