ASEAN trade and foreign investment overview

The ASEAN Economic Community integration heavily relies on the development of trade and investments in Southeast Asia. With clear successes towards freer movements of goods and capital, here is official data on trade and investments between ASEAN countries and with their other global partners.

The development of trade and investment is one clear area of success for ASEAN and the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community – AEC. With important reductions in barriers to trade and soaring trade numbers within ASEAN and with the rest of the world, the Association of South-East Asian Nations does have some solid results to bring forward as one of the benefits of the AEC.

In a new report that gathers extensive analysis and graphs on the development of trade and foreign direct investments – FDI – until 2014, ASEAN published a lot of interesting data. The report comprises varied information on trends for intra-ASEAN and external trade, goods and services analysis and dependencies towards other countries, together with patterns analysis for selected goods and investments snapshots.

Majors trends in ASEAN trade

Reporting mainly on data available until 2013, ASEAN especially presents key information on some major trends regarding trade:

  • Removal of tariffs: tariffs have been drastically reduced between 2000 and 2013, with most goods traded with 0-1% duties within ASEAN countries.
  • Soaring trade: ASEAN trade has been multiplied by 6 since 1993, with intra-ASEAN trade growing faster at annual growth rates averaging over 10% per year since 1993 and the implementation of ASEAN Free-Trade Agreements – AFTA
  • Exchange partners: Great importance in trade of the ASEAN+3 group: ASEAN countries, plus China, Japan and South Korea. Since 2000, the part of intra-ASEAN trade and exchanges with China have grown especially fast.

Concerning the trade balance of ASEAN with other key trade partners, the following major trends stand out between 2000 and 2013:

  • Import: steady increase of imports from China and South Korea, and Russia in a lower measure. Decrease of imports from Japan.
  • Export: steady increase of exports to Australia, New Zealand and India. Important fluctuations in exports to the US and EU, depending on economic activities in these regions.

Trade dependencies

With regards to the types of goods traded, ASEAN is very dependent on a few commodities, with the top 5 commodities exported and imported representing about one third of both imports and exports. These 5 commodities are:

  • import and export
    • crude oil
    • petroleum
    • electronics integrated circuits
    • telephone sets/cellular
  • import only: gold
  • export only: automatic data processing machines

Furthermore, ASEAN is dependent on several of its different partners for the import and export of several specific goods and products that are almost exclusively traded certain partners.

Though ASEAN has seen an increase in agricultural products traded from 2000, trade has soared in manufactured products both exported and imported. The weight of electronics is particularly important in exports.

Major trends in Foreign Direct Investments in ASEAN

FDI have increased a lot in from 1995 to 2013, with an average year on year growth of 8.5%. FDI inflows have reached 122 Billion USD in 2013, which accounted for about 5% of GDP.

In terms of extra-ASEAN FDI it is important to note the particular importance of Singapore which received almost 50% of all FDI in 2013. The share of total ASEAN FDI received by each country in 2013 was as follows:

  • Singapore: 49.6%
  • Indonesia: 15.1%
  • Thailand: 10.6%
  • Malaysia: 10.0%
  • Vietnam: 7.3%
  • Philippines: 3.2%
  • Myanmar: 2.1%
  • Cambodia: 1.0%
  • Brunei: 0.7%
  • Laos: 0.3%

In terms of investors in ASEAN, the inflows of FDI in 2013 were from the following sources:

  • EU28: 22.0%
  • Japan: 18.7%
  • ASEAN: 17.4%
  • China: 7.1%
  • Hong Kong: 3.7%
  • USA: 3.1%
  • South Korea: 2.9%
  • Others: 25.1%

It is important to note the role of the services sector which attracts a large part of FDI.

Report on ASEAN Trade Performance and Dependency, and Investment 2014

Report summary

ASEAN trade and FDI overview 2014 - summary
Click on the summary to open the full report on ASEAN trade and FDI: “ASEAN Community in Figures – Special Edition 2014”

Acronyms and abbreviations

As the report makes extensive use of several acronyms and abbreviations, here is also a list of the ones used in the report, which may come handy to refer to when reading the report.

  • ACIA ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement
  • AEC ASEAN Economic Community
  • AMS ASEAN Member State
  • ANZ Australia and New Zealand
  • ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations
  • ASEAN6 Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand
  • ASEAN+3 Intra-ASEAN, China, Japan, and Republic of Korea
  • ASEAN+6 ASEAN+3, Australia, New Zealand, and India
  • ATIGA ASEAN Trade in Good Agreement
  • CEPT Common Effective Preferential Tariff
  • CLMV Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam
  • EAS East Asia Summit (ASEAN+6, Russia, and USA)
  • EU-28 European Union
  • FTA Free Trade Area
  • FDI Foreign Direct Investment
  • GDP Gross Domestic Product
  • GVC Global Value Chain
  • HS Harmonised System
  • PDR People’s Democratic Republic
  • PIS Priority Integration Sector
  • ROK Republic of Korea
  • USA United States of America

Official report published by ASEAN in 2014

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