EU-ABC Publishes 2018 Business Sentiment Survey: Press Release

  • EU-ASEAN Business Council publishes 2018 EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Survey
  • European businesses remain upbeat about ASEAN with 99% expecting to expand or maintain current operations in the region
  • Rising concern about unfair competition and Non-Tariff Barriers to trade in ASEAN
  • Lack of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) between the EU and ASEAN region also a major concern: call for more action on negotiations

European businesses continue to have a very positive outlook in Southeast Asia and expect to see ASEAN profits increase, according to the fourth annual EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Survey, which polled more than 330 executives from European companies around Southeast Asia.

Some of the key findings from this year’s survey, which is the fourth that the EU-ABC has done, include:

  • 99% of European businesses expect to maintain or expand their trade and investment in ASEAN over the next 5 years and almost three-quarters (72%) expect their ASEAN profits to increase in 2018.
  • More than half (51%) see ASEAN as the region with greatest economic potential double the number who cited the second place region (China)
  • 75% of them expecting their level of trade & investment in ASEAN to increase over the next five years.
  • However, only one in ten (12%) believe that ASEAN has achieved its aim of becoming a single market and production base, with more than half (54%) believing the pace of ASEAN economic integration is too slow, and nearly seven out of ten (67%), a significant rise over 2017, believing that there are too many barriers to the efficient use of regional supply chains.
  • 98% believe that the EU should accelerate the negotiation of FTAs with the ASEAN region, and close to three-quarters (73%) believe that European Companies are at competitive disadvantage without and EU-ASEAN FTA.
  • European businesses also appear to have increased concerns about the level of anti-competitive behaviour in their response locations with six out of ten (62%) reporting that they often or sometimes face unfair competitive practices (up from 48% in 2017).

Commenting on the results, EU-ABC Chairman, Mr. Donald Kanak said:

“This year, our Survey again shows European Businesses’ high optimism in the growth opportunities throughout the ASEAN Region, and strong intentions to invest and expand employment. The survey respondents want more rapid progress on EU-ASEAN trade agreements, in particular they want region-to-region FTA. Our members believe that FTAs, coupled with enhancements in private-public sector dialogue, will remove barriers to trade, allowing ASEAN to achieve the objectives set out in the 2025 Blueprint, and help the region maintain its leading position as a destination for investment, job and wealth creation.”

Commenting on the survey, EU Ambassador to ASEAN, H.E. Mr. Francisco Fontan said:

“I highly appreciate strong support and active engagement of the EU business community in the ASEAN region. They are indeed the foundations of our institutional efforts in the economic field. I want to again thank and congratulate the EU-ABC for this new Business Sentiment Survey and for the excellent partnership with the EU Mission to ASEAN.”

Also commenting on the survey findings, EU-ABC Executive Director, Mr. Chris Humphrey said:

“The EU-ASEAN Business Council remains committed to working with the European Commission and ASEAN national governments, to achieve the reality of a high-quality region-to-region FTA and acceleration of the negotiation of FTAs between the EU and ASEAN region. We will also continue to work closely with ASEAN and its Member States on promoting the further development of the ASEAN Economic Community. On the latter, our Survey shows clearly that European businesses want the AEC and see its benefits but are becoming frustrated at the slow pace of implementation and the rising number of non-tariff barriers to trade.”

Full findings of the survey may be viewed at: