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If you are looking to do business in Asia, it’s not just about Japan, Korea, China or Indonesia. The ASEAN region is an exciting opportunity, being one of the world’s largest and fastest growing markets that sits right on our doorstep.

ASEAN member countries comprise Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

This diverse group has achieved incredible progress over the last 30 years, becoming an economic powerhouse in the region. Collectively, ASEAN is the 7th largest economy in the world with a population over 600 million, a fast expanding middle class and GDP over US$ 2 trillion growing annually at around 5%.

The full-version of this blog (and comments) was originally published in the First 5000 (a business network for Australia’s most significant mid-sized companies).  It outlines why Australian SMEs and investors should seriously consider an ASEAN business strategy, and looks at the attractions and challenges.

Attractions include:

  • Needs and demands in every sector

Accelerating growth in consumers and consumption
  • A feasible alternative for manufacturing
  • Free movement of goods, services, investment and labour across the region
  • Free trade agreement with Australia
  • Access to other major Asian markets

Challenges include different cultures, business practices, languages and regulations across ASEAN, with individual countries differing in their level of market maturity.

The blog concludes that Australian SMEs and investors have generally shied away from an ASEAN business strategy. But now there is a lot of attractiveness about ASEAN, especially with the ASEAN Economic Community commencing in 2015. The return on investment is definitely tipping positive. It’s time to get ASEAN’d!