US firms eye ASEAN investment

31 August 2012

SINGAPORE: A fifth of US businesses are looking to diversify investments from China into ASEAN markets over the next two years, according to a new survey.

A poll of 365 senior executives from US companies across the region conducted by the US Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, found 21% were planning such action, significantly higher than the 15% of a year ago.

Across the region, 92% of respondents were positive about the economic outlook and 70% planned to expand their business in ASEAN markets.

"ASEAN is a bright spot in the global economy," said Tami Overby of the US Chamber of Commerce.

And, remarking on the importance of ASEAN as a partner for US trade and investment, she said: "As the region continues to integrate, US companies need to develop regional strategies to realise ASEAN's potential."
Vietnam is the country attracting most attention, with 57% of respondents planning to expand there, a long way ahead of the next most popular country, Thailand, on 11%.

For the first time, executives were asked about Myanmar. While most do not currently export there, a third do or are planning to do so. And a majority of 72% support or strongly support the US government's decision to suspend sanctions.

"Myanmar stands to play an important role for US companies in the region,” said Simon Khan of the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore, noting the opportunities highlighted by a recent trade mission there.

Commenting on the survey, David Mayo, of Ogilvy & Mather ASEAN, observed that local companies were looking beyond their own borders and investing in one another's markets "which is also generating a climate of growth and activity."

But he added that the interest in ASEAN had not been accompanied by a dip in interest in China.

Data sourced from AmCham Singapore; additional content by Warc staff