Speaking at the launch of the survey in Sydney, Australia’s Trade Minister Steven Ciobo said Australia is currently facing the most active trade agenda it has ever seen.
“This (survey) shows there is a very significant appetite to engage with ASEAN,” he said. “I am confident that Australian businesses won’t shy from the challenges of doing business in ASEAN and rather embrace them.”
There are challenges: the survey noted restrictions on ownership and investment and access to skilled labour. However one historical concern, currency volatility, is no longer seen as a major issue given improved macroeconomic stability in the region.
Greg Thomas, CEO of Linfox International, told a panel discussion the logistics company had 25 years’ experience across south aast Asia and had found, with such a varied group of countries, strong local partnerships are key.
“I think it’s also important that you reinvest your profits back into the region where you work, and that’s something Linfox is proud of,” he added.
ANZ Group Executive, Institutional, Mark Whelan said he sees significant business and economic opportunities in the region, driven largely by population and income growth as well as urbanisation.
“ASEAN is forecast to become the 4th largest economy in the world after the EU, US and China by 2030, while its populating is expected to rise to 726 million compared with 650 million now.”
“What comes with that is a changing market, for example many more people in the region are wanting to eat more protein, and they naturally look to suppliers they can trust,” he said. “And the Australian brand which is clean, green and reliable really plays into that.”