EU-ASEAN Business Council, the primary voice for European business within the ASEAN region, today announced the release of the 2017 EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Survey. The survey aims to serve as a barometer for the business sentiment and outlook of European businesses in Southeast Asia. European businesses continue to have a very positive outlook in Southeast Asia and expect to see ASEAN profits increase, according to the third annual EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Survey, which polled more than 300 executives from European companies around Southeast Asia.
Key findings include:
Three-quarters (75%) of European businesses expect an increase in ASEAN profits for 2017 and almost three-quarters (71%) have said ASEAN has become more important in terms of global revenues over the last two years.
As a result, 94% of European businesses plan to expand or maintain their current levels of operations and headcount in the ASEAN region.
86% of them expecting their level of trade investment in ASEAN to increase over the next five years.
European businesses in the region are keen to see strengthened ties between the EU and ASEAN. More than four-fifths (88%) of European companies believe the EU should pursue a region-to-region Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with ASEAN, a significant increase on the 66% surveyed in 2016, and more than half (55%) feel they are at a disadvantage in ASEAN without an EU-ASEAN FTA.
However, challenges for businesses remain, impeding ASEAN from reaching its maximum economic potential – almost two-thirds (61%) of European businesses say that non-tariff barriers are hampering supply chain efficiency.
Based on survey findings, the EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) is calling for the acceleration in negotiation of FTAs between EU and ASEAN and to begin pursing a region-to-region FTA with ASEAN; more frequent and regular interactions between EU and ASEAN governments and the private sector; and further advances in economic integration within ASEAN.
Commenting on the results, EU-ABC chairman, Mr. Donald Kanak said: “ASEAN is becoming the next key driver of global economic growth. This Survey shows that European businesses will continue to contribute to ASEAN by increased trade, investment and employment. Respondents strongly support a deep and comprehensive a region-to-region EU-ASEAN FTA to enable greater European investment in the region and continued collaboration on reducing trade barriers and trade frictions.”
Commenting on the survey, EU Ambassador to ASEAN, H.E. Mr. Francisco Fontan said: “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. It is precisely this strong support and active engagement of the EU business community in the ASEAN region that lay behind all our institutional efforts in the economic field.”
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, comprehensive region-to-region FTA and accelerate 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.”
Other noteworthy findings include:
Nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents said that further ASEAN economic integration was important to their business success in the region, as compared to the 66% surveyed in 2016.
European companies are generally perceived favourably in ASEAN, with only 12% saying they were viewed less favourably.
No significant fall out from Brexit on trade and investment plans, with only 12% saying that it would affect their trade and investment plans.
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