ASEAN is the answer for Australian business in 2019

15 Jan 2019
ASEAN is the answer for Australian business in 2019
While China and Japan will continue to loom large and India is on the horizon, and as the WA Government develops its Asian Engagement Strategy; Australian businesses should look to the dynamic ASEAN region (which includes near neighbours and economically dynamic countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam) for international growth.

The Perth USAsia Centre were delighted to recently partner with the WA Government to deliver the inaugural WA-ASEAN Trade and Investment Dialogue, which provided insights to government and business representatives from around the State on how to make their mark in ASEAN.

The Dialogue featured success stories from entrepreneurs and influencers hailing from across the nation, now doing business in ASEAN. Below are 5 top tips for your business heading into ASEAN in 2019:
  1. Do your homework: Indonesia is on a trajectory to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050, with Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines in the top 25. Enormous demand is rising across all sectors – including in mining and energy; education, health and tourism; IT and technical services; in agribusiness and fisheries. Whether you are a small business or a large enterprise, learn more about the export and investment opportunities that continue to present themselves in ASEAN.
  2. Know your capacity: High growth rates in many ASEAN countries and provinces are a result of intense competition. While Australian success in ASEAN is necessary, for each individual business it is no mean feat. Know what your company has to offer the ASEAN market, know your company’s capacity and understand what skills and products need to be developed.
  3. Develop country-specific strategies: Almost every export-oriented Australian company has a China or Japan strategy, but not many have an Indonesia or a Vietnam strategy. Be a pioneer, but be patient. Devote time to researching and understanding the local laws, the governance practices and the cultural nuances. Even with capacity, success will take time – understand the risks early and embed patience and persistence in your strategy.
  4. Visit the countries and establish local partners: ASEAN is a rapidly developing market – you need partners on the ground. Most businesses in ASEAN are family owned enterprises. Your company must work within existing frameworks to succeed, and the best way to do this is to build strong local relationships. Even in today’s digital age, the best way to develop trust and collaboration in ASEAN is to meet potential partners in person.
  5. Seek Advice: Work with the government, the business councils and the advisory firms. State and federal governments have trade offices in ASEAN countries - their job is to support businesses looking to trade and invest. There are also a number of business councils with established ASEAN relationships. they are there to help their members. Across Australia, many firms work to build ASEAN capability; as well as advise on compliance and strategy. Leave no stone unturned when seeking advice.
As the ASEAN nations are our closest neighbours in the dynamic Indo-Pacific region, Australian firms, particularly those in WA, should take full advantage of the power of proximity in 2019 and beyond.

Featured image courtesy of


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