Blog: Opportunities ripe for Australian businesses in ASEAN region

20 March 2018

Pictured: The Hon. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull opening the ASEAN SME Conference

The ASEAN Summit brought together major players in Australian and Asian policy to further strengthen partnership and explore opportunities for collaboration. MTPConnect’s General Manager International and Government, Dr Sandhya Tewari, attended the ASEAN SME Conference in Sydney last week, a dedicated event for Australian small-and-medium sized businesses aimed at building their understanding of the exciting ASEAN region.

The 2018 ASEAN-Australia Special Summit was the first meeting of its kind in Australia and a major step forward in Australia's engagement with south-east Asia. Opened by the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, in a joint address with the Prime Minister of Singapore, His Excellency Mr Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister Turnbull said, “the countries of south-east Asia are already of enormous economic significance to Australia – our bilateral trade is already more than $100 billion as of last year. I’m convinced that opportunities for Australia in our region are vast if we continue to engage proactively with the economies of the Indo-Pacific.”

The ASEAN SME Conference brought together up to 350 Australian SMEs, and many CEOs, business leaders and senior government officials from Australia and the Asian region; to exchange ideas, experiences and information on Australian-driven trade and investment to ASEAN markets. With a population of 637 million and an economy growing at five-per-cent each year, the Asian market provides tremendous opportunities for Australian companies.

ASEAN's GDP compared to major economies in the region in 2016. Source: Austrade

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, The Hon Steven Ciobo MP, said, “it is you – the small and medium-sized enterprises from across the region – who are custodians of a stronger and deeper trade and investment relationship across our region. With ASEAN to be an engine room of growth over the years to come, there are boundless opportunities for ASEAN and Australian businesses to collaborate and develop the goods and services of the future.”

It was fantastic to hear that Australia would with ASEAN to establish digital trade so that the nation could keep up with the pace of change in the digital revolution to help SMEs thrive. It is future-focused discussions like these that are kick-starting that potential for growth here in Australia.

There are lots of opportunities access to services that could be pivotal in getting your foot in the door, that I have outlined below.

The Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment, the Hon. Steven Ciobo MP launched the Data61/CSIRO 'Sunrise Industries' report in his address, which identified prospective industries that have the potential to become new sources of long-term economic development and prosperity in the ASEAN region. The report names personalised health as one of seven industries that are set to fuel future regional growth, international collaboration and job creation.

The Summit’s Women in Business Breakfast featured the first ladies of Australia and Singapore addressing business leaders and raising the importance of diversity, inclusive growth and sustainability.

Overall, the Summit provided a great opportunity to connect with representatives in Australia and the ASEAN region and get excited at the potential for Australia’s growth in trade.

There is great support available for companies who are looking to expand into the region, and the MTPConnect team is always here to provide advice and connections to the sector and relevant government bodies. Contact us and we can facilitate connections with key leaders and organisations that companies can access for assistance, including:

  • Austrade: The Australian Government agency responsible for promoting trade, investment and international education, and tourism policy, programs and research. The agency can help your business expand by exporting, which improves your ability to compete in the domestic market. The Austrade Why ASEAN Matters to Australia report is a great place to start, outlining opportunities for Australian business and noting the upcoming healthcare boom for the region. Austrade also has 10 Trade Commissioners in the region, who can help with first steps in accessing new markets.
  • Australia-ASEAN Council: The Australia-ASEAN Council is tasked tosupport the development of trade and cultural relations between Australia and the 10 member countries of the ASEAN region. The Council will work to generate opportunities for Australian business, education, science and innovation and the arts to work with partners in South-East Asia.
  • AustCham ASEAN: The peak representative body for Australian business interests in Southeast Asia. AustCham ASEAN assists businesses in achieving success through informing Australian business on regional integration developments and the business landscape; explaining the contribution of Australian business to ASEAN markets; and advocating for policies, rules and regulations that support Australian business activities in ASEAN.
  • Efic - Finance for Australian Exporters : Efic is a specialist financier that delivers simple banking solutions for Australian companies, aiming to enable small businesses by helping them to win business, grow internationally and achieve export success.
  • Asialink Business: Offers expertise and provides tailored solutions to help businesses seize the potential of diverse Asian markets. Asialink Business works to equip organisations in all sectors to become Asia ready by developing the critical skills, knowledge and networks needed to engage with the complexities of the region. The Country Starter Packs provide insights to develop capabilities for specific Asian markets.