European businesses are seeing opportunities in ASEAN, but the region’s slow pace of integration is an increasing concern, According to a 2019 EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Survey published today by the EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC).
According to the survey, 53% of respondents see ASEAN as the region with the best economic opportunity, up from 51% in 2018. The study also finds that 88% of respondents expect to increase trade and investment in ASEAN in the next 5 years, an increase of 13% over 2018.
But only 3% of respondents feel that ASEAN Economic Integration is progressing fast enough, down from 11% in 2018 while 58% of respondents found that the number of non-tariff barriers (NTBs) to trade in ASEAN have not changed much, despite various ASEAN-level commitments to eliminate NTBs. A whopping 94% of respondents would like the EU to accelerate FTA negotiations with ASEAN and its members.
“European businesses are extremely positive about ASEAN and have rated ASEAN as the region with the best economic opportunity, ranking more than 2-to-1 over the next, China. Almost 9 of 10 expect to expand trade and investment in the next five years,” says EU-ABC Chairman Donald Kanak.
The Survey notes that “delays in reducing NTBs to trade and investment have dulled enthusiasm for the AEC” and that “the EU FTAs with Singapore and Vietnam are steps in the right direction, but the opportunity cost of overlooking a region-to-region FTA, or more speedy action on further bilateral FTAs, is not to be taken lightly. European businesses are also urging the European Commission to bolster its efforts in ASEAN while calling for the EU to revitalize its negotiations with the Southeast Asian bloc and take smaller progressive steps if necessary.”