Publication 16 pages

China outbound investment: accessing the ASEAN opportunity through Singapore

28 May 2019

This briefing paper highlights the importance of ASEAN members to Chinese companies. It also outlines ways to tap into the bloc’s vast potential via Singapore, one of the most advanced economies in the world and one that boasts a longstanding relationship with China.

In volatile times, the countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) remain a relative bright spot and zone of opportunity for Chinese investors searching for growth. With a combined market of over 600 million consumers and a rapidly expanding middle class on China’s doorstep, the region is a natural starting point for mainland firms expanding abroad. 

This briefing paper highlights the importance of ASEAN members (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) to Chinese companies. It also outlines ways to tap into the bloc’s vast potential via Singapore, one of the most advanced economies in the world and one that boasts a longstanding relationship with China. 

The key takeaways, based on proprietary research and contributions from senior executives at TMF Group and Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB), include:

  • ASEAN is expected to see a surge in Chinese investment over the next decade given geographical proximity, a rising consumer class, improving infrastructure and strengthening regional economic and trade ties.
  • Singapore will play a pivotal role as a regional gateway for Chinese firms looking to access ASEAN, particularly in high value-added sectors such as advanced manufacturing, technology and pharmaceuticals/biotechnology.
  • Singapore has a justified reputation for its pro-business policies, favourable regulatory environment, highly skilled workforce and first-rate infrastructure. 
  • A regional strategy is essential for long-term success, given the varying levels of development and infrastructure and vastly disparate and complex regulatory regimes among ASEAN member nations.
  • Support from a local partner with in-depth knowledge of and an on-the-ground presence in key regional centres is critical to navigate sensitive cultural issues and rapidly evolving business environments.

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