91% of executives surveyed reported that they expect profits in the region to increase in 2017 and 96% anticipate expanding their operations. 70% of respondents say the overall investment environment is improving. (click more for results and full report)
U.S. companies remain generally optimistic about business prospects in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), even in the face of global economic headwinds and challenges, according to the annual ASEAN Business Outlook Survey released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Chambers of Commerce in ASEAN member countries. In a poll of senior executives representing U.S. companies in all 10 ASEAN countries, 78% expect their profits to increase in 2017, with more than half (53%) reporting that ASEAN markets have become more important for their companies’ global bottom line. Close to half of the surveyed companies (49%) expect to increase their ASEAN workforce by the end of 2016. The overwhelming majority of respondents (87%) expect that their companies’ level of trade and investment in ASEAN will increase over the next 5 years.
In Myanmar, 91% of executives surveyed reported that they expect profits in the region to increase in 2017 and 96% anticipate expanding their operations. Moreover, 70% of respondents say the overall investment environment in the country is improving. Consequently, Myanmar continues to be a top three priority market for future business expansion along with Vietnam and Indonesia. In continuing good news for the Myanmar economy, 87% of respondents anticipate to expand their workforce in the coming year.
Despite the overwhelming optimism, executives point out a number of factors that impede the further growth of the Myanmar economy. A significant majority of respondents identify the availability of trained personnel (83%), office least costs (83%), infrastructure (78%), laws and regulations (78%), housing costs (78%), tax structure (70%) and corruption (70%) as serious concerns for U.S. companies in Myanmar.
“We commend the Myanmar Government on the positive steps taken to foster economic opportunities for domestic and foreign businesses, says Scott Neal, AMCHAM Myanmar’s Chairman. “A better businesses environment benefits the whole society by creating jobs and providing opportunities for the people of Myanmar.”
According to respondents, the following goals should be priorities for internal economic reform: develop the banking and financial system, improve overall governance and transparency, and improve human capital (invest in health and education).
This year’s ASEAN Business Outlook survey includes a new section that discusses talent sourcing and workforce development in ASEAN. The survey finds that the attributes most valued by U.S. businesses in ASEAN are creativity, analytical problem-solving, technical skills, and effective communication. The most desirable qualities for employers in Thailand are management and leadership, foreign language proficiency, and sales and marketing skills.
The full report can be accessed here.