ASEAN regional bloc is business-friendly

ASEAN member countries strive to complement each other in supporting investors.

ASEAN is committed to an excellent investment climate for businesses. Aside from each countries’ individual initiatives, the region offers an investment framework aimed at enticing investors and helping those doing business in the region. Newer member countries attract more efficiency-seeking FDI because of their comparative labor cost competitiveness. Similarly, those that are land-constrained encourage investors from agriculture and plantation industries to operate in neighbouring countries that have abundant lands. This practice of finding another Southeast Asian country to complement current operations has led investors in the region to further deepen their engagement.

ASEAN’s workforce is a key draw for investors. Human resources range from productive and cost-competitive labor, highly skilled industry practitioners, and licensed professionals. Labor force participation rate is estimated at almost 70%. Citizens in the region value education. Adult literacy rate ranges from 73% to 96%. Every year, the region produces hundreds of thousands of university graduates. Technical and vocational certificate holders are also filling industry workforce requirements as countries continue to support industrial and public training institutes. English is commonly used in business transactions.

Global players in various industries are present in the region and many more are expanding their operations as they see opportunities develop. The world’s top global brands (as ranked by Interbrand), have made their way to the region. More than 80% of the world’s global Fortune 500 companies operate in ASEAN including via non-equity methods such as contract manufacturing, contract farming, licensing, and franchising. The top 10 global automotive companies and top 10 global auto parts manufacturers are in ASEAN. The Association also takes pride in hosting the world’s leading consumer electronics and a number of global pharmaceutical and chemical companies. Apple, Dell, HP, LG, Microsoft, Nokia, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba are some of the electronic companies with multiple plants in the region. AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi-Aventis all have production or R&D facilities in ASEAN.

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