Special industry report shows 93% of business leaders are upbeat about growth in ASEAN, and 81 per cent will increase investments in the region.
Standard Chartered today launched its “Winning in ASEAN” report, showcasing business sentiments, opportunities, and strategies corporates can undertake to navigate the global shifts and drive growth in the region. The findings underscore the impetus for greater effective public-private partnership (PPP), to accelerate recovery and resilience in ASEAN and beyond.
The growth potential of ASEAN is undisputed
In 2021, ASEAN was the third highest recipient of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) globally, with inflows of USD 174 billion, returning to pre-pandemic levels. Some 50 per cent of ASEAN’s FDI inflow originate from the US, EU-27, and China. Intra-ASEAN FDI contributed about 12 per cent of the region’s FDI inflow in 2021.
Trade agreements, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), are expected to further accelerate growth. With RCEP in place, 81 per cent of business leaders surveyed plan to increase investments in ASEAN over the next three to five years. Overall, 93 per cent of them expect positive revenue growth from their ASEAN businesses.
For instance, many business leaders are optimistic about Thailand’s overall growth potential, with 58 per cent of respondents currently having or planning to have a sales presence locally over the next three years.
Benjamin Hung, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Asia, Standard Chartered, said,
“ASEAN is an oasis of growth, with its GDP forecasted to grow about 4 per cent annually to USD 4.5 trillion by 2030. Amidst global complexities, we see structural trends presenting significant opportunities in ASEAN, where there is growing inter-connectivity in trade and capital flows, strong digital adoption, and an acceleration of green transition. Corporates need to act decisively to capture what ASEAN has to offer today. As a leading international bank in the region, Standard Chartered is committed to supporting our clients in capturing these exciting opportunities.”
Plakorn Wanglee, CEO, Thailand, Standard Chartered, said,
“Thailand has proved to be resilient through challenges and remains amongst the top investment destinations for the business community. The country is well-positioned in all four key sectors highlighted in the study, with 36 per cent of respondents having existing operations in Thailand and 22 per cent of respondents planning to build a sales presence here in the next 2-3 years, which will pave the way for Thailand’s role as a gateway to ASEAN.”
Six strategic areas to THRIVE in ASEAN
| Refer to page 21 of the report for details
Business leaders understand the need to prioritise investments, as they capture opportunities quickly and ensure sustainable growth. The report showcases a ‘THRIVE’ framework, representing the six growth pillars that corporates are pursuing to advance in ASEAN:
To overcome the aftermath of the pandemic, resulting shifts from rising geopolitical tensions, and the intensified competition for talent, the findings highlight the top two focus areas, where each sector is prioritising their investments in the next three years.
Business leaders will also progressively step up on its net-zero commitment to drive long-term growth. Some 52 per cent of those surveyed plan to invest in sustainability initiatives within the next three years.
Greater public-private partnership to accelerate growth
Refer to page 87 of the report for details
Capturing ASEAN’s full potential requires active collaboration between the private and public sectors to both bring synergies and break barriers.
The findings showed that the top three areas where collaboration needs to be strengthened in the next two to three years to advance progress are:
65% said to enter more new partnerships to unlock the potential across the value chain;
60% urged more can be done to upskill and nurture to future-proof the workforce;
55% would like the PPP to look at developing infrastructure solutions more proactively to overcome systemic barriers.
When looking for a banking partner, business leaders consider the following key capabilities:
Digitalised platforms for foreign exchange (FX) and transaction banking – to provide speed to market with real-time access
Comprehensive Multi-Currency settlement services for their FX hedging needs across their footprint markets
Strong cash management capabilities to manage their cashflow and liquidity well
Widespread cross-border network with deep understanding of local markets.
Heidi Toribio, Regional Co-Head, Client Coverage, Asia, Corporate, Commercial and Institutional Banking, Standard Chartered said,
“Regional and international companies are increasingly realigning their business models and embedding sustainability to future-proof their operations. At Standard Chartered, we are committed to work with our clients to re-visit their investment strategies and achieve their growth ambitions. As the only international bank with a full presence in ASEAN, our diverse network, in-depth local knowledge, and comprehensive suite of capabilities set us apart as the ideal banking partner.”