EU-ASEAN Business Council Publishes 2019 EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Survey

September 02, 2019 - 04:23
EU-ASEAN Business Council Publishes 2019 EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Survey

Continued Confidence Towards ASEAN, But Signs of Losing Faith in ASEAN Economic Integration


  • The EU-ASEANBusiness Council published its fifth annual EU-ASEAN Business Sentiment Survey today
  • European firmsremain highly optimistic and committed to ASEAN and continue to see ASEAN asthe region of best economic opportunity
  • However, increasingsense that ASEAN Economic Integration is failing to deliver, with risingconcerns over non-tariff barriers in Southeast Asia
  • Europeanfirms also want faster progress on trade deals between the EU and ASEAN, withmajority reporting that they feel at a competitive disadvantage without moredeals.

SINGAPORE- Media OutReach - 2 September 2019 - Following on from previous years,the EU-ASEAN Business Council (EU-ABC) today published its annual EU-ASEANBusiness Sentiment Survey -- the fifth edition of this report. Highlightfindings this year include:


  • 53% of respondents see ASEAN as the region withthe best economic opportunity, up from 51% in 2018.
  • 88% of respondents expect to increase trade andinvestment in ASEAN in the next 5 years, an increase of 13% over 2018.
  • But only 3% of respondents feel that ASEANEconomic Integration is progressing fast enough, down from 11% in 2018
  • 58% of respondents found that the number of non-tariffbarriers (NTBs) to trade in ASEAN have not changed much, despite variousASEAN-level commitments to eliminate NTBs.
  • 94% of respondents would like the EU to accelerateFTA negotiations with ASEAN and its members.

Commentingon the Survey, EU-ABC Chairman Donald Kanak said:

"European businesses areextremely positive about ASEAN and have rated ASEAN as the region with the besteconomic opportunity, ranking more than 2-to-1 over the next, China. Almost 9of 10 expect to expand trade andinvestment in the next five years."


"However, there isalso a clear message that European businesses are increasingly sceptical or negativeabout the effects of regional ASEAN integration on their business prospects. Respondentsare now seeing local or national elements such as improvements ininfrastructure and the local economy as key drivers impacting their revenue andprofits. Unless ASEAN moves faster on its integration efforts, especiallyremoval of NTBs and harmonization of standards, it risks being seen as just a"sum of the parts" of the 10 countries and not capturing the synergies andgreater economic and development benefits that an integrated community canbring."


Executive Director of the EU-ASEAN BusinessCouncil, Chris Humphrey, added:


"The message from the Survey is clear: ASEANEconomic Integration appears to be at a standstill. ASEAN and its constituentsneed to pick up the pace to meet the AEC Blueprint 2025 goals. Europeanbusinesses are now adjusting their business strategy according to localenvironments, rather than waiting for substantial progress in regional economicintegration.  European businesses arealso very concerned about the lack of progress on further FTAs with the ASEANregion, and in particular the long talked about region-to-region FTA which nearlythree-quarters see as potentially delivering more benefits that a series ofbilateral FTAs.  European businessesclearly want the European Commission to step up the pace of negotiations withSoutheast Asia"


The Survey notes that "delays in reducing NTBsto trade and investment have dulled enthusiasm for the AEC" and that "theEU FTAs with Singapore and Vietnam are steps in the right direction, but theopportunity cost of overlooking a region-to-region FTA, or more speedy actionon further bilateral FTAs, is not to be taken lightly. European businessesare also urging the European Commission to bolster its efforts in ASEAN, whilecalling for the EU to revitalise its negotiations with the Southeast Asian blocand take smaller progressive steps if necessary."

Summary of Key Findings in the Business Sentiment Survey:


CurrentBusiness Environment and Outlook

88% ofrespondents expect to increase trade and investment in ASEAN in the next 5years (2018 -- 75%).

73% ofrespondents project an increase in ASEAN profits in 2019 (2018 -- 72%).

53% ofrespondents see ASEAN as the region with the best economic opportunity (2018 --51%).



94% ofrespondents would like the EU to accelerate FTA negotiations with ASEAN and itsmembers (2018 -- 98%).

54% ofrespondents perceive they are at a competitive disadvantage without an EU-ASEANFTA (2018 -- 73%).

72% ofrespondents believe that an EU-ASEAN FTA would deliver more advantages than aseries of bilateral FTAs (2018 -- 87%).

64% ofrespondents believe the EU should pursue an EU-ASEAN FTA now before bilateralFTAs are concluded (2018 -- 70%).


ASEANRegional and Domestic Policy Frameworks

46% ofrespondents are uncertain about the impact of the AEC on their businesses (2018-- 35%).

Only 3% ofrespondents feel that ASEAN Economic Integration is progressing fast enough(2018 -- 11%).

58% ofrespondents found that the number of NTBs to trade in ASEAN have not changedmuch.


GovernmentConsultation and Competition Issues

71% ofrespondents feel they are often or sometimes consulted by national governmentsin ASEAN (2018 -- 70%).

77% ofrespondents believe they face unfair competition in the local/regionalenvironment at least occasionally (2018 -- 62%).

To download the Survey,please go to