Foreign Investment in ASEAN Founders Outpaces China Investment

Foreign Investment in ASEAN Founders Outpaces China Investment

Foreign investment in the five founding members of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, last year topped $128.4 billion, five times the 2001 level, Merrill Lynch economist Chua Hak Bin said in a report carried today by the South China Morning Post.

By comparison, China attracted $117.6 billion, after investment peaked at $124 billion in 2011.

Kerry Logistics’ chairman George Yeo told the Hong Kong newspaper that Chinese and international companies were pouring billions of dollars into northern Vietnam alone, seeking cheaper labor as they shifted manufacturing out of the mainland and into ASEAN countries.

“I visited our operations in Vietnam, where there are exciting developments taking place,” he told reporters recently. “Companies like Samsung and Foxconn are moving enormous production capabilities to Vietnam. This is the future of Asia manufacturing and this trend will continue for many years to come.”

Yeo said Kerry Logistics was expecting rapid growth in trade between China and ASEAN countries to continue. The Hong Kong-listed 3PL is building several logistics centers in China, Vietnam and Thailand. It operates 39 million square feet of warehouse and logistics centers in the region.

“ASEAN will continue to grow at several times the global average,” Yeo told reporters.

ASEAN was formed by Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines and has expanded to include Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

With GDP growth of 5 percent last year, the region is home to 600 million people, 8.8 percent of the world’s population, and has a consumer market worth $1.2 trillion. However, corruption and onerous customs procedures have long frustrated shippers, with political instability a long-standing concern.

Contact Greg Knowler at gknowler@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @greg_knowler.