ASEAN overlooked

27 May BRR imageAustralian companies and directors are missing a plethora of opportunities in the ASEAN region, according to H. E. Rod Smith, the Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia.

Speaking at the annual Australian Institute of Company Directors' conference in Kuala Lumpur, Smith said directors are missing a trick when it comes to capitalising on the flourishing Asian Century by focusing solely on global powerhouses China and India.

“ASEAN and the Asia Century is not a new concept, however, these days the focus has been very much about China and India, yet ASEAN is in fact the quiet achiever.

“Made up of 10 countries, it is the seventh largest economy globally and presents Australian business with a powerful demographic dividend.  And with the introduction of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of the year, the opportunities will be even greater,” he said.

The AEC aims to bring about regional economic integration by the end of 2015 by creating a single market with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and freer flow of capital.

“This equals opportunities for Australian business across many service sectors, such as legal and infrastructure, to name but a few,” he said. 

Singling out Malaysia as an “exemplary ASEAN growth story”, Smith highlighted the country’s sustained GDP growth of five per cent over the last 20 years, ambitious development plans and the country’s target to achieve developed economy status by 2020.

He added that this presents tremendous opportunities to unlock the untapped finance in infrastructure, notably in the Islamic finance market.

“The potential of the Malaysian market is great and can act as a gateway to even greater ASEAN opportunities in the region,” he said.