ASEAN Business Outlook Survey 2018

Each year AmCham Singapore, in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other AmChams in the region, surveys senior business executives from U.S. companies across ASEAN about their perspectives on business environment and opportunities in Southeast Asia. The findings are presented in our annual publication, the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey (ABOS).


ASEAN is America’s fourth-largest trading partner and as foreign direct investment from the U.S. in the region represents the largest volume of any nation U.S. – ASEAN trade volume continues to grow rapidly.  Showcasing perspective of senior business leaders, the ABOS is a reliable source for insights on business opportunities and sentiments in ASEAN. These findings are presented to government representatives in closed-door discussions and at the annual ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting.


ABOS Screen Shot



General Outlook


U.S. companies continue to remain optimistic about growth prospects and commercial opportunities in ASEAN. More than 90% of respondents report that ASEAN markets have become more important or have remained as important in terms of their company’s worldwide revenue over the preceding two years. An overwhelming 95% of business leaders indicated that their companies’ trade and investment level has risen or held steady over the past two years. Profit outlooks remain positive, with 56% of respondents expecting higher profits in 2017 than in 2016 and 74% expecting higher profits in 2018 than in 2016. Expansion opportunities in ASEAN continue to be valued, with 71% of senior executives planning to expand into another ASEAN country and Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam identified as attractive investment destinations.







Current Local Business Environment


While the business outlook is broadly positive and holds significant promise for growth across ASEAN, a number of ongoing regional challenges remain for American companies. There has been little change in high levels of dissatisfaction with corruption over the past five years, but perceptions of government stability, personal security, and sentiment towards the U.S. have exhibited a slight decline. Despite this, executives observed that several countries’ investment environments had improved, notably executives in Myanmar (71%), Vietnam (54%) and Indonesia (54%).


Global Relations and Trade Agreements


ASEAN continues to plan an increasingly important economic role globally. With the U.S. placing less emphasis on multilateral trade agreements, surveyed executives cite Vietnam (56%), Indonesia (50%), and Thailand (46%) as the most attractive potential bilateral FTA partners. Following the U.S. withdrawal from the TPP, businesses expect that bilateral ties between their response country and China will deepen. 46% express concerns about potential negative effects should the U.S. take punitive trade action against China.


The ASEAN Business Outlook Survey has a global readership and is relied upon by regional leaders in both private and public sectors. By compiling the sentiments of business leaders, the survey offers policymakers a unique opportunity to understand industry sentiment and address identified issues to improve the investment attractiveness of their respective countries. Additionally, the report provides business leaders insights into the outlooks and predictions of their counterparts on the ground throughout the region.


Our 2018 edition marks the sixteenth year of the survey and the fifth year in which we have collected data from all ten ASEAN countries. This special commemorative edition celebrates ASEAN’s fiftieth anniversary by expanding our in-depth surveys of the opportunities and challenges faced by U.S. business in the region. AmCham Singapore and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce presented the survey results at the 49th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Manila on September 9.


Download the full press release. (PDF)
Download the 2018 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey. (PDF)


To view the full report, click on the image below.


To view the 2017 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey, click here.
To view the 2016 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey, click here.
To view the 2015 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey, click here.
To view the 2014 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey, click here.
To view the 2012/2013 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey, click here.



To find out more about how the ASEAN Business Outlook Survey 2018 is being cited, click the links below:



March 8, 2018

Asean Markets Strengthen as Opportunities Grow Reposted by Digital Journal March 8, 2018


January 12, 2018

Why Foreign Businesses Will Put Up With Some Corrupt Practices In Southeast Asia Danielle Keeton-Olsen, Forbes



December 15, 2017

ASEAN maintains strong pull for U.S. companies Economic Development Board Singapore (EDB Singapore)



November 22, 2017

The Philippines records highest foreign investment growth in ASEAN Oxford Business Group



November 7, 2017

Việt Nam: Integration, Dynamic Reform and Comprehensive Development Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, Việt Nam News



October 26, 2017

The President’s warnings Ninfa Leonardia, The Visayan Daily Star



October 25, 2017

House inquiry into drop in foreign investments sought Charissa Luci-Atienza, Manila Bulletin


Trump won’t withdraw US from Asia-Pacific Ding Gang, Global Times



October 16, 2017

22% of US companies in SE Asia prefer PH for an expansion site Jeandie O. Galolo, SunStar Cebu


Better climate for investment Philippine Daily Inquirer



October 11, 2017

ASEAN looks ahead to the next 50 years in partnership with global companies Pia Heikkila, EDB Singapore



October 9, 2017

Drilon highlights drop in foreign direct investments SunStar Cebu


Cabaero: Fewer investments Nini B. Cabaero, SunStar Cebu



October 7, 2017

Drilon raises concern over decline in PH foreign investments Jhoanna Ballaran,



September 14, 2017

US Firms Optimistic About Asean Outlook Financial Tribune


US execs still bullish on PH despite Duterte pivot to China Roy Stephen C. Canivel,



September 13, 2017

Asean-US trade, investment must continue: Lim Hng Kiang Annabeth Leow, The Straits Times. Reposted by The New Paper September 13, 2017.


Government ineffective in boosting confidence, say US execs Richmond Mercurio, The Philippine Star


Poll shows ‘unyielding’ US confidence to PHL growth Catherine Pillas, Business Mirror



September 12, 2017

American companies still upbeat about trade, investment in Asean region: Survey Annabeth Leow, The Straits Times


Asean must move on from death of TPP, forge new paths to economic integration: Lim Hng Kiang Annabeth Leow, The Straits Times


Southeast Asia Looks Likely to See More U.S. Investment Michelle Jamrisko, Bloomberg. Reposted by Bangkok Post and Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide September 12, 2017.


ASEAN must continue with strategic partnership even after TPP bites the dust: Lim Hng Kiang Brandon Tanoto, Channel NewsAsia


Singapore to focus on digital economy, trade facilitation as Asean chair in 2018 Chai Hung Yin, The Business Times. Reposted by Kopitiam Bot September 12, 2017.


Speech by Minister Lim Hng Kiang at the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore 2018 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey Results Launch Event Ministry of Trade and Industry, Singapore (MTI)


Graft single greatest concern for US firms in operating in Asean Syahirah Syed Jaafar, The Edge Markets


US businesses optimistic about Asean business outlook, survey finds The Malay Mail Online


Only 19% of US firms plan to expand ops, despite positive outlook The Sun Daily