Standard Chartered commissioned a survey for its Borderless Business: IntraASEAN Corridor, a strategic report that explores high-potential opportunities for cross-border growth within the region. 

The survey, which targeted senior executives at 83 companies based in Asean, reveals that Asean companies are highly optimistic about intra-regional growth in the coming year. The majority of Asean companies that are focusing on intra-regional opportunities expect robust business growth in the region over the next 12 months.

The survey also found that senior executives felt that access to the large and growing Asean consumer market (69%), access to a global market enabled by a network of Free Trade Agreements (59%) and availability of abundant and skilled workforce (49%) were among the most important drivers for expansion across the region

In terms of target markets within Asean, 80% of the surveyed respondents are focusing on expanding in Singapore to capture sales and production opportunities, followed by Thailand (60%) and Vietnam (59%).

The survey also shows companies recognising a wide range of risks in the region. The top three identified risks are the Covid-19 pandemic or other health crises (75%), geopolitical uncertainty and trade conflicts (60%), and the slow revival of the economy and the drop in consumer spending (49%).

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To drive resilient and rebalanced growth in ASEAN and to mitigate these risks and challenges, the surveyed executives identified entering new partnerships / joint ventures to increase market presence (53%), driving sustainability and ESG (Environment, Social and Governance) initiatives (53%) and executing digital transformation programmes (52%) as the most important areas for their companies to focus on.

To support their growth, these companies say they are seeking banking partners with strong cash management capabilities (52%), one-stop corporate financing and capital-raising services (52%), and extensive trade financing services (47%).

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Patrick Lee, cluster chief executive officer, Singapore & Asean Markets, Standard Chartered, says: “Asean corporates’ strong appetite to leverage Singapore for expansion within the region underscores the city-state’s unique position as the gateway to Asean. We have seen clients from countries, such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand, increasingly access the deep and liquid financial markets in Singapore.”

Photo: Bloomberg