Adapting to Succeed: The Australia – ASEAN Connect

EastWest Advisers hosted the 4 webinar in our Adapting to Succeed Thought Leadership Program on 25 November, 2020 featuring the opportunities for trade and investment between Australia and the ASEAN region.

The focus of the webinar was the recent Australia – Singapore Digital Economy Agreement, which provides the support for increasing online business activities between the two countries.

Three expert speakers, Phil Forrest, Ben Vella and Alan Tsen, provided frontline and strategic guidance on the potential for greater involvement in trade and investment between Australia and South East Asia.

Michael Moignard, Director of EastWest Advisers moderated the discussion. He noted that two-way trade between ASEAN and Australia is already 13.9% of Australia’s total trade basket, with Singapore contributing 3.7% of that number. While large, there is considerable scope for increasing it given the development of new trade agreements in the region, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Australia – Singapore Digital Economy Agreement.

Phil Forrest, Director, Australia– ASEAN Chamber of Commerce based in Singapore, spoke of the growing middle-class market in ASEAN. With increasing requirements for food, education, infrastructure, tourism, health care and financial services, ASEAN was a market for the goods and services that Australia can provide. This market of 650 million people seeking to develop their own economies, is, one of the fastest growing regions in the world. And with Australia positioned as one of the longest positively performing economies, perfectly placed together. While Phil acknowledged that, even with a strong inter-connection of trade agreements, ASEAN is still ten markets at different levels of development, and exporters and investors need to ensure they do their due diligence on market opportunities in each country.

Ben Vella, Head of the Enterprise Customer Hub, Telstra in Singapore, spoke of the value of the Australia – Singapore Digital Economy Agreement in supporting e-business activity in the two markets. Greater coordination in the digital space will allow easier access to each market, with a focus on easing the flow of goods through customs through e-government processes and streamlining e- business processes. It has the potential to increase the digital connections between Australia and other ASEAN countries.

Finally, Alan Tsen, Deputy Chair, Fintech Australia, spoke of the opportunities for the fintech sector in Singapore. He noted  that companies in the region are embedding financial services technology into their products – which is important for Australian fintech companies as they are essentially B2B driven. This rebuild of fintech infrastructure is one of the major growth areas for trade and investment flows between Australia and Singapore.

A lively Q and A ensured, focusing on the market opportunities in the post -Covid 19 period. While the pandemic has slowed the ASEAN economies down, as it has everywhere, some countries, such as Singapore are beginning to rebuild. 2021 should be a year to examine the market potential for trade and investment between Australia and ASEAN. Singapore is a perfect springboard into other ASEAN markets for Australian companies seeking new opportunities.

EastWest Advisers and the Australia – ASEAN Chamber would be happy to provide more information to any firms interested in seeking out the potential of these markets. Contact Us Today.

We thank you for your interest in our Webinar series on Adapting to Succeed © and look forward to your participation in our next Webinar.

We thank those who participated and we look forward to welcoming you back with our next webinar in the series!

Leave a Reply