Latest ASEAN news

The ASEAN Access network is looking for new partners!

We’re growing!

ASEAN Access is looking for public or private organizations, in ASEAN and beyond, that support and contribute to internationalization of businesses and who would like to collaborate with ASEAN Access as a Network Partner.

As an international network, ASEAN Access supports SMEs with market entry, by offering trade information, a Service Providers directory connecting users to hands-on market entry support, country and sector briefs, and a comprehensive pan-ASEAN events calendar. We are also launching our ASEAN Access MATCH platform, which will become the centre of our virtual matchmaking and market information events, knowledge workshops, and many other events that help businesses internationalise. 

How can you as a Network Partners collaborate with ASEAN Access?

  • Help businesses grow, by organising information, training and matchmaking events
  • Help inform businesses, by publishing relevant news, business and trade events
  • Help us grow, by directing visitors to ASEAN Access by promoting the portal.

What you get in return?

  • You can use the MATCH platform free of charge* for unlimited events of your choice
  • You can use our intranet for more matchmaking activities and join our internal communication
  • You will build your professional network in ASEAN and beyond
  • You can promote your own events in the events calendar
  • You can choose which news and articles ASEAN Access visitors should be reading
  • You will be part of the official ASEAN business support network and can help direct its growth.

*PS! The usual starting cost for similar matchmaking and virtual event platforms on the market is USD $960 per event, you’ll get to use ours for free!


Please email us at [email protected] and let us know you are interested. You will be directed to your national contact point who can give you more information. If you already know one of the national contact points of ASEAN Access, you can contact them directly.

ASEAN Business Awards 2021 is open for applications

Applications for outstanding regional enterprises are open for this year’s ASEAN Business Awards (ABA).

Brunei’s ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) – the country’s private sector representative to ASEAN – will be organising ABA this year as part of the Sultanate’s ASEAN chairmanship.

The ceremonial awarding will take place virtually on November 10. Each year has seen ABA award multiple winners from different countries in most categories.

ABA will feature eight main categories: Priority Integration Sectors, SME Excellence, Women Entrepreneur, Young Entrepreneur, Friends of ASEAN, Inclusive Business, Skills Development and Brunei Special Award: Emerging Social Enterprise. 

The deadline for application is October 14, with the exception of the Inclusive Business award which must be submitted to Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) by September 13. Application forms and further details are available on Brunei ASEAN-BAC website.

Date of Release: 7 September 2021

Read the full article here.



Asean wraps up meeting with commitments to further digital economy, sustainability

The Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) will collaborate with its external partners to spur stronger recovery from the pandemic and lay a foundation for longer-term growth, Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said in a LinkedIn post on Wednesday.

"Asean and our dialogue partners exchanged views on ... the economic impact of Covid-19, and discussed cooperation areas to mitigate its impact and hasten recovery," he wrote.

His post came after the week-long Asean Economic Ministers' Consultations with the grouping's key partners, including China and the United States, wrapped up on Wednesday.

The ministers agreed to collaborate on the digital economy, including working on the exchange of electronic customs information.

They also committed to conducting a study on a region-wide digital economy pact by 2023 and to start negotiations on the Asean Digital Economy Framework Agreement by 2025.

A focus on digital transformation to enable the smooth flow of goods and services and data will help ensure the region continues to draw global trade and investments, and better position itself for growth, Mr Gan said at virtual meetings with his counterparts last week.

The grouping also agreed to work with Japan on innovation and sustainability in industries, urban areas and rural areas, and held inaugural consultations on economic cooperation with Britain.

"We also discussed enhancing our existing free-trade agreements with our dialogue partners such as Australia-New Zealand, China and Korea, and working towards the ratifying the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement in early 2022," Mr Gan said.

How businesses in Southeast Asia can upskill for the future of work: MD of Adobe SEA

As Singapore and nearby countries start their journey towards living with Covid-19 as an endemic, Southeast Asia (SEA) businesses can expect to see more changes in the frequency of remote work, new online customers, and shifts in buying behaviors.

To stay agile, businesses will need to carefully consider the future of work, and source the talent, develop the skills, and organise the teams that can bring a digital-first customer experience (CX) strategy to life. With face-to-face interactions increasingly making way for digital engagements, online shopping has shot up, and businesses must pivot to keep up to customer expectations. 

When wesurveyed marketing and technology leaders for the 2021 Digital Trends Report, both CX leaders and mainstream companies ranked “lack of digital skills” as the third-highest issue holding back their marketing and CX organisation. Even before the pandemic, SEA businesses were concerned about the digital skills gap, with the explosion of digital channels and technologies. 

However, the future of work is not only about technology. In the new digital-first world, customers expect brands to deliver digital-led experiences specifically tailored to their needs and preferences. In addition to the right technologies, brands must invest in the right skills as well, to meet those fast-evolving expectations. 

Technical upskilling is only part of the solution. To build a customer experience advantage, business leaders and marketers need to be savvy about data analytics, change management, and storytelling skills too. Focusing on these three areas will help organisations deliver impactful experiences at every stage of the customer journey.

1. Turn data into actionable insights.

Plenty of people have technical skills but there aren’t enough who understand what the data is telling them in their particular business context. What’s lacking is a marriage of traditional analytical skills and technology.

There are many digital skills programs that train people in coding, business intelligence tools, and collaboration tools. However, many businesses don’t realise that it’s probably easier to take someone who already understands your business and teach them about data analytics, rather than hiring somebody who has the technical skills but will need to learn your business from scratch.

Digital upskilling isn’t just about training a new generation of workers. It’s about taking the workforce that businesses already have and equipping them with the latest digital tools to stay relevant.

For instance, the Adobe Programmatic League in Southeast Asia introduces existing members of the workforce to data and analytics, and show them ways to apply those digital skills to their functions. It’s taking decision-makers who aren’t experts in technology — and empowering them by bringing them into the world of data analytics. They then learn how they can transfer those capabilities to their organisation in this new world of CX.

We also  partner with government agencies to deliver digital skills induction and enablement programs to the Singapore population. It’s an on-ramp to the world of CX, providing an awareness of how Adobe enterprise customers have used digital solutions to access better insights about their customers.

2. Adopt change management as a mindset 

Change management — making change that is successful and sustainable — is a methodology and a learnable skill. Everyone involved in implementing a new technology should understand they are in a change program. Business leaders need to know how to make the change successful. If not approached that way, they won’t get the full value out of their technology investment and will subsequently fail in building a customer-first organisation.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB), an agency that’s changing its industry through data and analytics. Even before the pandemic, STB realised the tourism industry needed more technology, data, and insights to be more efficient and profitable. The agency wanted to create a centralised data and insights platform to help the country’s travel and tourism ecosystem move into the digital age.

Adobe helped STB build the Singapore Tourism Analytics Network (STAN) and integrate it into the Singapore ecosystem. It’s a great example of an organisation taking the leadership on change and coordinating the industry through that change process, so they see the value and benefit from it.

Another example of an organisation leading with a change management mindset is M1. Despite being a pioneer in the telco industry, the organisation is embracing change by becoming Singapore’s first truly digital communication provider. M1 recently refreshed its brand identity, complemented with new made-to-measure offerings and an enhanced customer experience journey — including an overhauled digital experience roadmap, supported by Adobe.

3. Every customer journey is a storytelling opportunity

It’s critical that marketers have strong storytelling skills, both internally, to get all the teams aligned around the customer journey they’re trying to create, and externally, to deliver the right messages to customers at each stage of their journey with the brand.

Once business leaders have taken the time to understand the customer journey, they should organise their people to align and support in a consistent manner. This approach is a powerful way of showing empathy to customers, while lining up all the necessary data logistics to support the entire customer journey.

That level of empathy is only attainable when all the data is gathered, and segments are identified. That’s what allows you to tell the right story. It’s essential to link all these insights from an external point of view so that businesses can engage customers with the right level of empathy throughout the entire customer journey.

Showing that the customer journey is a story in itself, is powerful. If someone takes the time to document that story and articulate it and ensures that everyone in the organisation understands that customer story, everyone will then realise how they should be supporting that story — what their roles and responsibilities are, and how they can coordinate all of that to make it a smooth journey.

Establishing a successful digital future in Southeast Asia

The SEA region is a fast-growing digital market, and businesses need to upskill their workforce to digital work rapidly. The demographics show that the region has both a growing middle class and many young people needing jobs, so demand is aplenty.

The mechanics of future-proofing a brand are no less important than the conceptual framework it’s built on. Educating and training employees to understand and use technology effectively — and interacting with customers in new and improved ways — isn’t optional. 

Upskilling is key to establishing a successful digital future in SEA, and it will require a concerted effort from different stakeholders — from technology companies to higher education institutes, and governments.

Source: The Business Times (Singapore)
Date: 20 September 2021


Asean investors more focused on financial well-being following Covid-19 pandemic: Survey

SOUTH-EAST Asian investors have gained an increased focus on their financial well-being, more so than their global counterparts, and this behaviour is likely to be a lasting legacy of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Schroders Global Investor Study 2021 on Tuesday.

The study found that a vast majority of investors have spent more time considering their financial well-being and reorganising their personal finances since the pandemic began, the asset manager said.

This is particularly so for investors in Thailand, with 91 per cent of them sharing this view strongly. This was followed by investors in Indonesia at 88 per cent, Malaysia at 85 per cent and Singapore at 81 per cent.

More than half the investors in this region are likely to save more once the Covid-19 situation normalises, compared with the global average of 46 per cent.

The study surveyed 24,000 individuals in 33 economies across Asia, Europe and the Americas from March to August this year.

Schroders noted that the survey reflected respondents' relatively more cautious outlook stemming from fluctuating lockdown cycles and slow vaccine rollouts during this period.

Respondents' more measured approach also applied to their retirement outlook, with 65 per cent of retirees in South-east Asia now more conservative with spending their retirement savings, compared with 58 per cent of retirees globally.

Meanwhile, 75 per cent of those yet to retire now want to save more towards their retirement, higher than the global average of 67 per cent.

Over the course of 2020, 26 per cent of investors in South-east Asia said they had saved more than they planned to, while 56 per cent saved as much as they had planned.

Among those who were unable to save as much as planned, 57 per cent in South-east Asia cited reduced income as a key reason.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, investor confidence is at its highest level since Schroders began this study in 2016. They are expecting annual returns to average 11.3 per cent, up from last year's prediction of 10.9 per cent.

Overall, South-east Asian investors are among the most bullish, as they expect annual total returns of 12.8 per cent over the next five years. This is followed by investors in the Americas, broader Asia and Europe.

"Despite the huge challenges we have all encountered, it is encouraging to see that the pandemic has acted as a catalyst for promoting a stronger focus on generic financial planning and wellbeing," said Stuart Podmore, a behavioural investment insights specialist at Schroders, noting that the pandemic has heightened the overall sense of uncertainty.

"At the same time, we need to exert caution over the investment returns we expect over the coming five years, as the outlook shared by many investors - and in particular those who believe themselves to be experts - is exceptionally optimistic," he said.

He added that the future remains difficult to predict, as evidenced by the past 18 months, and a consistent and patient approach to investing, focused on long-term objectives and probable outcomes, is likely to stand investors in better stead.

Source: The Business Times (Singapore)

Date: 14 September 2021


FDI inflows across Asia remain resilient despite the prolonged pandemic: UOB FDI Advisory Head

Written by Sam Cheong, head of group FDI advisory and network partnerships at UOB. 

Global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows have been hit harder by the COVID-19 pandemic than the global financial crisis of 2008 to 2009.

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2021, global FDI flows dropped one-third from US$1.5 trillion in 2019 to US$1 trillion in 2020. In fact, 2020's FDI flows were 20 per cent lower than those in 2009, as lockdowns and the prospect of a recession led to many companies around the world reassessing their investment plans.  

FDI inflows across Asia remain resilient

Despite the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia stood out as an attractive destination for FDI.

The UNCTAD report showed that FDI flows to Asia in 2020 rose by four per cent to US$535 billion – driven by investment flows into China, which reached US$149 billion, compared with US$141 billion in 2019.

FDI growth in Asia is expected to continue, with a five to 10 per cent year-on-year increase in 2021. According to the UNCTAD report, this momentum is driven by "growing markets, extensive regional and global linkages, and an investment climate that has remained generally open despite the pandemic".

Looking closer to home, Asean’s FDI inflows were muted in 2020. Each of the region’s top FDI recipients reported declines – Singapore by 21 per cent, Indonesia by 22 per cent and Vietnam by two per cent. These three countries accounted for more than 90 per cent of FDI inflows in 2020.

Thailand saw FDI inflows from foreign investors amounting to US$3 billion in 2019, turning into a negative inflow of US$6 billion in 2020 driven by divestments. In comparison, other ASEAN countries saw FDI inflows fall. In Malaysia, FDI fell 55 per cent to US$3 billion, while in Myanmar, FDI fell 34 per cent to US$1.8 billion.

However, the outlook for ASEAN remains bright. The signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which involves all ASEAN member countries, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, is expected to be one of the major growth drivers as the trade bloc becomes more economically integrated.

Growth in energy infrastructure projects

In 2020, energy infrastructure projects globally fell 40 per cent to US$27 billion – the lowest point in eight years. For Asia the experience was the opposite. Asia was the only region to grow in the number and value of energy infrastructure projects.

For example, in Vietnam, the United States’ ExxonMobil has proposed a US$5 billion gas-fired power plant while Delta Offshore Energy (Singapore) will also be setting up a US$4 billion LNG power generation facility.

Defying the global slowdown in spending, FDI in renewable energy projects also increased, from US$30.7 billion in 2019 to US$33.4 billion in 2020. Asean's FDI in renewable energy sources is also set to grow further as the region commits to reviewing and transitioning its energy mix. B.Grimm, a Thai private power producer, is building a solar power plant in Vietnam that is set to be one of the largest in the region. Impact Electrons Siam is also developing a 600MW wind farm in Laos, which will be the biggest wind project in Asean.
Intra-regional investments by Southeast Asian companies 

Much of the Asean’s FDI investment stayed within the region, due to its attractive long-term growth potential. Intra-ASEAN FDI flows saw 5.4 per cent growth in 2020, from US$22.1 in 2019 to US$23.3 billion in 2020. 

Singapore and Thailand were the two largest investors in ASEAN in 2020. In fact, companies from Singapore formed the largest investor group in some countries – 25 per cent of FDI in Indonesia and 40 per cent of FDI in Vietnam was from Singapore. According to Enterprise Singapore, companies from the island-state have invested in Indonesia's consumer products and services, manufacturing, transportation, logistics and infrastructure sectors.

Thailand's FDI outflows more than doubled to US$17 billion in 2020. Almost 85 per cent of the outflows were funnelled into industries such as financial services, retail and wholesale, manufacturing, real estate, and construction activities within Asean.

Indonesia and the Philippines also invested into the region, with outward investment from the two countries rising to US$4.5 billion and US$3.5 billion respectively. For example, Japfa Comfeed (Indonesia) opened a feed mill in Vietnam while Ayala Corporation (Philippines), together with a Singaporean partner, is also constructing a wind farm in the country.
While the overall outlook for ASEAN depends on how countries are able to contain the pandemic and new virus strains, intra-regional investment will boost not only stronger economic cooperation but also long-term growth prospects for the economic bloc.


Source: The Business Times (Singapore)

Date: 15 September 2021


ASEAN launches Investment Report 2020-2021: Investing in Industry 4.0

Bandar Seri Begawan, 8 September 2021 – Today, the “ASEAN Investment Report 2020-2021: Investing in Industry 4.0” was launched during the Virtual Meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers – 24th ASEAN Investment Area Council (AEM – 24th AIAC) Meeting.


Foreign direct investment (FDI) flows into ASEAN fell by 25% to US$137 billion from an all-time high of US$ 182 billion in 2019 given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the decline, ASEAN remained an attractive investment destination, with its share of global FDI rising from 11.9% in 2019 to 13.7% in 2020.


In November 2020, ASEAN and its five Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners signed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, which is expected to further boost FDI and enhance economic integration in the economic bloc that constitutes about 15% of global FDI stock and more than 33% of global FDI flows in 2020.


This year’s report features FDI’s role in the region’s Industry 4.0 transformation and how Member States are adopting Industry 4.0 technologies to step up industrialisation and economic development. It also provides policy options to attract FDI in supporting the digital transformation of ASEAN, including in setting the right strategic direction and addressing the bottlenecks that impede the transformation.


The ASEAN Investment Report is prepared under a technical cooperation agreement between the ASEAN Secretariat and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), with inputs from members of the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Investment (CCI) and supported by the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Program Phase II (AADCP II).


The report can be downloaded at:

Source: ASEAN

A Bright Future: Shaping The Culture of Entrepreneurship in Southeast Asia

Home to some of the world’s fastest-growing markets, the past decade saw the rise of more than a dozen unicorns in Southeast Asia, leading the charge in the expansion of the digital economy across the region. The surge in startup success stories from the likes of Grab, Sea, and GoTo shows the promise of the region’s internet economy, and more tech startups are only expected to emerge in the coming years. With some 400 million internet users and home to many young, mobile-first consumers, Southeast Asia has the opportunity to outpace the rest of the world in areas like e-commerce, smartphone-based businesses, and fintech.

Today, Southeast Asia’s micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs and SMEs) account for over 99 percent of businesses in the region. Backed by a cultural legacy of entrepreneurship, a young, urbanized population, and a digital economy now valued at US$300 billion — the opportunities to grow and scale are not lost on investors. According to Jungle Ventures, valuation figures across Southeast Asia’s tech ecosystem are forecast to hit a whopping US$1 trillion by 2025. With strong interest from investors looking to increase their exposure to the growth profile of this region, it’s clear that the region’s startup ecosystem has come a long way, in a short period of time.

A culture ingrained

Entrepreneurship lies at the heart of the region’s socio-economic landscape. In fact, with over 70 million MSMEs and SMEs in the region today, the appetite for owning and running businesses appears to be somewhat ingrained in the continent’s cultural fabric; and thanks to improved education, technological advancement and increased government investment, the region is now witnessing the rise of a new generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders, across different cultures, backgrounds, and expertise.

From family-run stores to startups, SMEs are a vital source of income and employment in Southeast Asia, and have a widespread presence outside major cities, creating opportunities for work and development in small towns, suburbs, and rural areas. The overall economic growth of the region, combined with burgeoning youth populations and increasingly urban middle-class consumers all come together to create an environment ripe with opportunity for the region’s emerging entrepreneurs. Compared to larger, more established markets like China or India, Southeast Asia is still an early-stage market for venture capital investments — but if the recent fundraising successes of unicorns such as Grab, Carousell, and Bukalapak is any indication, there’s no doubt that startups in Southeast Asia are on the rise.

When one size doesn’t fit all

A market ripe for disruption, Southeast Asia is home to a wide demographic, cultural and linguistic diversity, with many of the countries in the region at various stages in their economic development. According to Monk’s Hill Ventures, roughly half of Southeast Asia’s US$3 trillion GDP is driven by the service sector, yet inefficiencies exist in all of its industry verticals. This gap is where entrepreneurs and SMEs in the region are reimagining business models using tech to create value. Singapore is the economic leader in the region, with the nation’s well-established global connections, advanced IT infrastructure, and sound regulatory foundation making it an ideal place for businesses and startups to flourish. While emerging markets like Indonesia and Vietnam — the latter boasts one of the best tech talent pools across the region — are fertile ground for new businesses to develop innovative, out-of-the-box solutions to existing problems plaguing the market. While the region is already highly interconnected in terms of commerce, the impact of its cultural diversity means that taking a one-size-fits-all approach is not likely to be very effective.

Instead, there is a need for entrepreneurs to identify and address their markets’ pain points on an individual level. For this reason, rather than borrowing from old approaches from the West, founders in Southeast Asia have to reinvent the wheel and recognize the cultural and operational differences unique to each market in the region. This could be the level of digital literacy and existing infrastructure or simply consumer habits, for example in Indonesia cash is very much still king while in Singapore digital and card payments are the norm. By addressing expectations and needs on a country, rather than regional level, businesses will be in a better position to capture the market and deliver exceptional services to their target audiences. This could, for instance, look like giving local teams the autonomy to adjust products, processes, and prices in line with local expectations. That said, while each country in the region is very different, there is much evidence on the ground of economic collaboration, and business conversations in one country often cross borders when it comes to expansion plans, partnerships, capital sources, and access to talent.

Leapfrogging digital transformation

Within the region’s emerging markets, the absence of legacy infrastructures has made it so that many of these entrepreneurs are not burdened by the red tape of bureaucracy and established processes. Many giants in the e-commerce space, such as Lazada, Shopee and Zalora come to mind — by developing their own infrastructures such as logistic fleets and digital banks these players streamline processes and ultimately better serve the needs of their customers. Compounded with mass urbanization across the region, technology has made it much easier for new players to enter the startup space — whether they are MSMEs, or SMEs pivoting to digital. With some of the highest rates of mobile and internet penetration in the world, the region makes for an intensely technologically savvy and literate populace, open to innovation and disruption.

Just like the rest of the world, Covid-19 has served as a catalyst for digital adoption within the region, as consumers had no option but to go online for shopping, banking, and education, among others. Undoubtedly, they are expected to maintain much of their reliance on digital services, as the region continues to leapfrog to new levels of digital adoption, especially in areas like commerce and finance. With the ongoing proliferation of digital services, it is crucial for businesses to keep up and adapt to these changes or risk getting left behind.

Innovation is an integral part of Southeast Asia’s digital identity, and a practice that will continue to keep the region vibrant and competitive. Therefore, it is imperative for entrepreneurs and talents to embrace innovation in order to stay relevant internationally, particularly when it comes to digital transformation. As long as businesses continue to stay up-to-date and open to new business opportunities, and pursue new breakthroughs in technology, Southeast Asia will be able to remain appealing and maintain its edge on the global stage.

Source: Nasdq 

Economic, societal potential of green economy a key growth driver for Asean: CEO of StanChart Asia

ASEAN cannot rest on its laurels and rely on the same growth drivers to guide its future trajectory, particularly with weaker economic recovery expected on the back of increasing Covid-19 cases and renewed lockdowns.

That being said, increased intra-regional cooperation and connectivity is expected to boost regional growth.

"Asean is a bedrock of opportunities, with significant potential for growth - particularly in areas of supply chain diversifications, innovation & technology, and strategic partnerships & digitalisation," said Benjamin Hung, CEO, Asia, Standard Chartered.

According to the survey commissioned by Standard Chartered, 99 per cent of respondents expect growth in production and 96 per cent anticipate growth in revenue.

They identified the large and growing Asean consumer market (69 per cent), access to a global market enabled by a network of Free Trade Agreements (59 per cent) and availability of abundant and skilled workforce (49 per cent) as among the most important drivers for expansion across the region.

But Mr Hung emphasised that corporations must approach business expansions in a "conscientious manner". "In the world of the new business, sustainability is non-negotiable. The sooner businesses recognise that their success is intrinsically tied to the long-term prosperity of our communities, the more they can stand to benefit."

Indeed, one in two executives surveyed said driving sustainability and ESG (environment, social and governance) initiatives is an important area for their companies to focus on, as they look to mitigate risks and challenges.

The survey, which targeted senior executives at 83 companies, also showed entering new partnerships/ joint ventures to increase market presence (53 per cent) and executing digital transformation programmes (52 per cent) as important areas to drive resilient and rebalanced growth in Asean.

The problem is that the heterogeneous nature of Asean markets means that adoption of ESG principles across the region has been disparate.

Despite the region's slow start, local governments and corporates are gradually recognising the economic and societal potentials of the green economy, as noted by Borderless Business: Intra-ASEAN corridor, a series of reports commissioned by Standard Chartered.

ESG and sustainability are big themes for sectors in transition, noted Mr Hung. "In Asean, clients from the commodities sector are particularly receptive to ESG considerations and we support their efforts anywhere from renewable energy asset investments to transforming their supply chains to procure from certified sustainable sources," he said.

"Similarly for the shipping industry, we see clients active in exploring alternative energy set-ups and including ESG targets into their borrowing agreements."

Growth areas

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this renewed focus on sustainability is set to create significant opportunities in areas such as renewable energy, and automotive, particularly, electric cars, and infrastructure.

Energy in particular is at the forefront for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and has been identified as an integral part of creating an integrated, well-connected and resilient Asean.

The region's electricity consumption was 994 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2020 and is projected to reach 1,287 TWh by 2025. To meet these energy needs in a sustainable manner, the Asean Plan for Energy Cooperation 2016-2026 (APAEC) has set a target to increase Asean's renewable energy component to 23 per cent of Asean's energy mix by 2025.

This is expected to result in a wide range of opportunities for regional cooperation through APAEC Programme Areas. Within renewables, solar energy is expected to be a significant growth segment, growing at a projected CAGR of 15.9 per cent.

Thailand is the regional leader for energy generation in the two fastest growing segments - solar and wind - with 10.53 TWh generated in 2020, which is expected to grow to 16.88 TWh by 2025. Vietnam is also expected to see maximum growth in these segments, growing from 2.83 TWh in 2020 to a projected 10.35 TWh in 2025, with a CAGR of 29.6 per cent.

Another key growth area highlighted by the report is the automotive sector. The region's well-established automotive hubs - Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia - puts it in good stead to create an integrated production cluster.

Boosted by strengthened trade linkages across the region through initiatives such as the AEC and the Asean Free Trade Area, automotive manufacturers can capitalise on the added connectivity Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) brings to explore export opportunities with Asean's major trading partners under the agreement, it noted.

It is also worth noting that regional governments are prioritising sustainable transport with a plethora of incentives being offered for the manufacturing and adoption of electric vehicles.

As countries in Asean target the building of smart cities, they are looking to develop capabilities in autonomous driving technology. Singapore is the regional leader in this aspect and has already begun tests for driverless vehicles; Malaysia and Vietnam have also made headway in this area.

The construction and real estate industry meanwhile is expected to restart its growth trajectory once economic activities resume.

As projects in Asean grow larger in size and increasingly complex, companies will need to look at digital solutions such as Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Internet of Things (IoT) to manage this complexity, noted the report.

The region as a whole has made some headway. Singapore adopted BIM in 2010 while Vietnam approved a 2017-2021 roadmap for implementation of BIM for construction and operation management in 2016.

Other industries on the report's growth watchlist include food and beverage products, which is expected to be buoyed by increasing urbanisation and a growing middle class with higher consumption power, e-commerce and digital platform services; and healthcare services.

Profitability and purpose

"It is important for all economies to have a resilient and cohesive roadmap towards a sustainable future. Through the Asean Comprehensive Framework, an enhanced focus by the local governments on green economies will provide businesses the confidence to invest more into the sustainability agenda and reap their potential benefits," said Mr Hung.

Pressure to get on with the agenda is also coming from the ground.

A separate report by Standard Chartered found that 67 per cent of MNCs state that supply chain emissions account for an average of 73 per cent of their total emissions. In their transition toward net-zero, many see tackling supply chain emissions as the first step. Significantly, they expect to exclude 35 per cent of their current suppliers as they move away from carbon.

Consumers are also becoming more socially conscious about their consumption habits and purchasing choices. According to the World Economic Forum report, Future of Consumption in Fast Growth Consumer Markets: Asean, 80 per cent of respondents claimed to value sustainability and actively made greener lifestyle choices.

As sustainability becomes a non-negotiable, companies need to identify where they are on their net-zero transition journey and re-evaluate their supply chain strategy in view of global and regional carbon reduction commitments, said the report.

It is also worth noting that prioritising sustainability is one of the keys to cement customer loyalty, grow customer base and ultimately increase profitability.

"Beyond profitability and ESG reporting, the aftermath of the pandemic presents an opportunity for companies to redefine their purpose in alignment with ESG principles, and to think of how they can drive sustainability and positive impact whilst still creating value for their stakeholders," it noted.

Source: The Business Times (Singapore)

Date: 13 September 2021

Reference: Economic, societal potential of green economy a key growth driver for Asean, Global Enterprise - THE BUSINESS TIMES 

Contract signing aims to increase rice production

Hiew HY Construction Sdn Bhd and Jurusy Perunding Sdn Bhd have been appointed as the project contractor and project lead consultant for the Phase 2 infrastructure work on the 500-hectare commercial paddy plantation area in Kandol, Belait District.

Held on August 25 at the Public Works Department (JKR), the project is an effort by the Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam through the Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT), to increase rice production to improve the country’s food security.

The signatories were JKR Acting Director General Ir Haji Mohd Salleh bin Haji Abdul Karim and Acting Director of Drainage and Sewerage Haji Mazlan bin Haji Abdul Salim, Hiew HY Construction Sdn Bhd Director Chong Chen Kong and Jurusy Perunding Sdn Bhd Director Ir Haji Samat bin Haji Abas.

The Phase 2 infrastructure work is a continuation of the 30-hectare Phase 1 project completed by the end of last year.

Planting for the Kandol Phase 1 was fully carried out by PaddyCo Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Darussalam Assets Sdn Bhd. To date, PaddyCo Sdn Bhd has been planting in the Kandol Agricultural Development Area for four seasons starting October 2019 and has produced around 155 metric tonnes of paddy.

The Phase 2 infrastructure work worth more than BND36 million involve a paddy plantation area of 145 hectares as well as the construction of a water reservoir of 58 hectares

Read the full story here.

Cambodia: Meet looks at potential of ASEAN’s SME portal

The Ministry of Industry, Science, Technology and Innovation, the private sector and development partners on September 9 held the first-ever national consultation on “ASEAN Access” via Zoom, to explore ways to use the online portal to develop and expand the market reach of local businesses.

Directed more towards regional small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME), ASEAN Access was launched on June 16 and could potentially be linked to the KhmerSME website, developed by the ministry and scheduled to be launched next month.

The consultation was attended by representatives of Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), Pact Cambodia, Cambodia Women Entrepreneurs Association (CWEA), Young Entrepreneurs Association of Cambodia (YEAC) and the Office of Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion (Osmep).

The talk aimed to convey the advantages of ASEAN Access to local businesses and invite SMEs to matchmaking events on September 21 and 30, organised by the platform in partnership with Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).

Businesses were also invited to register on the portal to have access to the latest information regarding regulations on international markets, goods and service trade, and e-training and other events.

Speaking at the event, industry ministry’s director-general for Small and Medium Enterprises and Handicraft Chhea Layhy underlined that ASEAN Access provides comprehensive information on trade and market access within ASEAN and beyond.

“SMEs will be able to find new products, opportunities, explore trade and business matchmaking events and stay up-to-date with new business and trade information for the ASEAN region,” he said.


Author: Thou Vireak

Source: The Phnom Penh Post

For full article, please click this link

Original publication date: 12 September 2021

ASEAN remains a fast growing region despite the pandemic

Despite the COVID-19 crisis, ASEAN is one of the fastest growing regions in the world, said Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office and Minister of Finance and Economy II Dato Seri Setia Dr Awang Haji Mohd Amin Liew bin Abdullah during the ASEAN Business and Investment Roundtable 2021 on Fintech and Financial Literacy held virtually yesterday.

The minister also said, Bain and Company’s e-Conomy Southeast Asia report noted that the Covid-19 pandemic has led to big shifts across Southeast Asia, highlighting that 40 million people came online for the first time last year, bringing the total number of Internet users in the region to 400 million.

“The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia points out that ASEAN consumers are global leaders in terms of e-wallets and digital payment adoption.

“This offers great opportunities but also challenges as we must keep inclusivity in mind and ensure that with the rapid rate of technological change it does not leave anyone behind.

“Financial literacy plays a critical role on inclusivity.

“Not only is it important to understand money and the changing nature of transactions, both for personal and business purposes but digital financial literacy has become essential if we are to achieve our goals of ensuring that everyone can benefit from the advancements in fintech.

“ASEAN governments are continuing to meet virtually to discuss what steps can be taken to help our region continue to be vibrant as we draw closer to the Summit in October,” said the minister.

Read the full article here