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The ASEAN Region – Your Window to Southeast Asia?

The ten countries that make up the Association of Southeast Asian Nations currently attract more foreign inward investment than China and is the third fastest growing region in the world, only behind India and China. Southeast Asia’s economic dynamism is substantially enhancing the buying power of a growing middle class that is driving new consumer demands for luxury products. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicts that the size of the middle class in emerging Asia will increase from 24% of the population in 2010 to 65% in 2030.

With the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, there has never been a greater need to build a strong partnership with ASEAN – both with the institution itself and its ten member states. ASEAN’s economy is on target to eclipse Japan’s and be the world’s fourth largest ‘single market’ after the EU, US and China, within the next ten years. This means UK companies need to be looking to ASEAN as an export destination.

‘Brand Britain’ has never been stronger in the region, and there is great demand for products with the ‘Made in the UK’ label, valued for their remarkable high quality. The prospect of these ten dynamic markets, better connected and harmonised as a single market, should make ASEAN an extremely attractive investment destination for UK companies.

Challenges selling into the ASEAN region

In an interview with us in 2016, Paul North, one of the UKABC’s specialists, told us the following about the challenges of selling into the region.

The main challenge is understanding the region. It is an economy made of 10 distinct export markets. Other challenges are similar to more familiar export destinations such as finding the right partner/distributor/agent, but distance to the markets, time difference and cultural nuances are further considerations.

Exporting to Southeast Asia requires a significant investment of a company’s time.  Companies in Southeast Asia prefer to build a strong relationship over several meetings before entering a deal. Dining with potential business partners will form part of any successful business relationship, often around some of the amazing regional cuisine!

Countries: Brunei, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, South East Asia, Thailand, and Vietnam

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