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ASEAN Highlights

Updated: Nov 10, 2023

The A to Z of Business in ASEAN

by AZEAN Ventures.

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)

A region of limitless business opportunities.

With a market size of $2.3 trillion and 600 million people, the AEC aims to achieve a single integrated market through the process of regional economic integration. The end goal was always economic integration. That goal has, for all intents and purposes, been largely achieved. It is now a highly integrated and cohesive economy.

Expanding into the ASEAN market presents an enticing proposition for global businesses, and ignoring this opportunity would indeed be foolish. With a rapidly growing middle class, ASEAN offers a wealth of advantages. It boasts a diverse and youthful population hungry for goods and services. Entering this market grants access to millions of potential customers eager to engage with new products and brands.

ASEAN's strategic location at the crossroads of major trade routes makes it an ideal hub for businesses aiming to tap into the broader Asia-Pacific region. ASEAN has actively promoted economic integration, creating a single market and production base. This has simplified business operations, reduced trade barriers, and offers a level playing field for foreign companies. The region is abundant in natural resources, making it an attractive destination for industries reliant on raw materials. Many ASEAN countries offer incentives for foreign direct investment and have improved their regulatory environments to attract businesses. The region's rapid adoption of technology offers a fertile ground for digital businesses and startups.

Regional economic integration under the AEC necessarily demands greater connectivity between ASEAN Member States as well as within the countries. Transport, ICT, energy connectivity and tourism are key elements of physical and people‐to‐people connectivity in the region. Additionally, other sectors such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, science and technology all play an important and complementary role to achieve an integrated market under the AEC.

The ASEAN Economic Community will remain one of the fastest growing regions in the world. The January issue of The ASEAN Briefing states:

ASEAN nations could benefit from a privileged geopolitical position in future years as the US-China rivalry intensifies and both superpowers seek to deepen ties in the region. Both nations have highlighted their commitment to trade with ASEAN economies – China particularly through access to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). The US only has free trade agreements with selected ASEAN countries”.

ASEAN will be the 4th largest global economy by 2030 with a projected GDP of more than US$4 trillion. Neglecting the ASEAN market means missing out on an incredible opportunity for growth, diversification, and long-term profitability. The region's economic vitality, vast consumer base and strategic importance make it a compelling destination for any global business looking to thrive in the 21st century. Ignoring this market is a risk that no forward-thinking company should take.

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