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ASEAN Conference 2017 cast spotlight on the region’s strengths and diversity as the next economic force

4 May 2017 [Singapore]
- The ASEAN Conference 2017, jointly organised by the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) and founding partners United Overseas Bank (UOB), Rajah & Tann LLP and RSM Chio Lim LLP, is themed “The Next Economic Force”. Held at the Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre, the Conference will look at diversity and niche strategies for the ASEAN region, with a focus on the Indonesia market, as well as potential opportunities arising from the disruption caused by digital economy and e-commerce in the region.

Guest-of-Honour Mr Lim Hng Kiang, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade), will deliver the opening address. Other notable speakers include Philippines Trade Secretary Mr Ramon Lopez and Deputy Chairman for Investment Promotion at the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) Dr Himawan Hariyoga.

Bringing together key decision makers from the private and public sectors, ASEAN Conference 2017 will look at turning diversity into strength by finding niches in the market. With the Philippines as the ASEAN Chairman for 2017, it will be insightful to hear from the Trade Secretary on the growth potential of the region and how member nations can consolidate resources to work towards common aspirations.

Importance of ASEAN to the business community

The establishment of the AEC holds vast potential for businesses as it allows access to a market worth over US$ 2.6 trillion. Collectively, the region has a population of over 622 million people, representing the world’s third largest market base, behind only China and India1.

Southeast Asia is the third (3rd) largest economic player in Asia after China and India, and the seventh (7th) largest in the world with a combined GDP of over US$ 2.5 trillion. The GDP growth forecast for Southeast Asia stands at 4.9% in 2017, which is above the World Bank’s estimates for global growth at 3.1% in 20172.
The region is also one of the world’s largest destinations for foreign direct investments (FDI). In 2015, the region attracted US$120 billion in FDI and accounted for 16 per cent of global FDI flows.

According to SBF’s National Business Survey 2016/17, the top six markets of interest are in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines), indicating the importance of the region to the Singapore business community.

ASEAN Conference 2017

Against a backdrop of global economic slowdown, ASEAN shows strong growth potential and is poised to become the next economic force. At the Conference, business leaders from the Philippines and Indonesia will share success stories and provide insights on effective strategies to adopt when doing business in the region.
Participants can also learn about growth opportunities arising from the diversity of the ASEAN region and how companies can best position themselves to tap into niche opportunities. The discussions will touch on the impact of disruptive technologies, namely digital economy and e-commerce on the regional business landscape and explore different models for collaboration in ASEAN from international perspectives.

Mr Ramon Lopez, Secretary of Trade and Industry of the Republic of the Philippines, said: “The Philippine economy is in a position of strength to weather a difficult global environment, with Singapore as one of its most vital economic partners, ranking over the years as its top foreign investor in ASEAN. The country’s current economic landscape provides a wealth of opportunities for domestic and foreign investors, particularly in services, manufacturing, agri-business, infrastructure development, logistics and tourism. Moreover, our strong economic fundamentals are to be further bolstered by economic reforms including in ease of doing business.” 

Emphasising the economic potential of ASEAN, Mr SS Teo, Chairman of SBF, said: “Six out of the top 10 markets that our members are keen to venture into are in Southeast Asia, with Indonesia being the top market of choice. The recent CFE recommendations also call for stronger focus on ASEAN. SBF will step up its efforts to advocate for Singapore companies’ interests and help SMEs build economic bridges through platforms like the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, bilateral business councils and MoUs with our counterparts in ASEAN.”

1Source: ASEAN Secretariat: Fact Sheet on ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)
2Source: World Bank




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