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Monday, September 05, 2011

US companies find Asean market increasingly important

KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 5, 2011): American companies expect the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) market to become increasingly important for their businesses, according to the findings of the Asean Business Outlook Survey 2011.

The majority of companies or some 73% of the survey respondents said they expect Asean's importance to their business will increase over the next two years, with 85% of them planning to expand their business in Asean.

No company is planning on any cutback, it said.

The survey also revealed that the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement was vital for US businesses, with 80% of respondents saying that their companies used the tariff benefits of the FTAs Asean has completed with its trade partners.

"The Asean-China FTA was also highly rated with 49% of companies using its benefits," the survey revealed.

The Asean Business Outlook survey, which is now in its 10th year, seeks to understand the outlook on business growth and perceptions of doing business in Asean.

It interviewed 327 senior executives from US companies in Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, The Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

The survey was conducted by The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore) in collaboration with many other related associations and chambers.

Meanwhile, on Malaysia, the survey said Malaysia improved in a number of local business factors, such as the availability of raw materials and low cost labour in 2011.

"However, new concerns have appeared, including the availability of trained personnel for some positions and problems with laws and regulations.

"Corruption, a long-standing issue, has greatly improved, with only 35% dissatisfaction this year compared to 63% in 2010," the survey said, adding that overall, 80% of the respondents still predicted that their business will expand in Malaysia.

The survey also revealed that all respondents had predicted an increase in the housing cost as well as living cost and three quarters of the respondents expect an increase in the interest rate.

Vice President of AmCham Malaysia, Datuk Tim Garland said the American companies' positive business forecast and expansion in Malaysia were great testaments to the effective implementation of Malaysia's Government Transformation Program (GTP) and Economic Transformation Program (ETP).

"AmCham Malaysia is excited to be part of Malaysia corporate expansion in Asean and we will be working closely with all key stakeholders towards reducing regulatory barriers and improving the ease of doing business locally and in Asean, for existing and potential American investors as they share in Asean growth," he said.

The majority of respondents, he said, are satisfied or neutral towards the government’s guidelines and the fairness of their applications, and with local government institutions. – Bernama

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