ASEAN region steps up bilateral trade and investment with South Africa

ASEAN region steps up bilateral trade and investment with SA

South East Asian investors, manufacturers to visit SA to forge new business ties

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), marking its 50th anniversary this year, is actively stepping up its efforts to boost bilateral trade and investment ties with South Africa.

The first joint Singapore-Malaysia business mission to South Africa next month will see 14 manufacturers, led by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation and the Malaysian Federation of Manufacturers, holding a series of trade and investment meetings in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

This mission is timed to coincide with the inaugural Africa–ASEAN Business Expo (AABE) and Forum at the Sandton Convention Centre from 6 – 8 November, where manufacturers and distributors from the 10 ASEAN nations will meet South African and pan-African trade partners.

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), established in 2015, creates a combined US$2.6 trillion market of over 628 million people, and is collectively the seventh largest economy in the world. With rapid development and economic growth, ASEAN is projected to rank as the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2050.

Singapore is both the region’s biggest exporter and importer, followed by Thailand, Malaysia, Viet Nam and Indonesia, with the top 10 ASEAN trade commodity groups including electrical machinery and equipment, mineral fuels and oils, nuclear reactors and equipment, vehicles, plastics, optical and photographic equipment, pearls and semi-precious stones, organic chemicals, iron and steel and rubber.

Bilateral trade between African and ASEAN countries is growing fast, with over 300 ASEAN companies operating in Africa, primarily in manufacturing, oil and urban development, and Singaporean investment in Africa alone passing the US$16 billion mark in 2012.

The Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF), taking a leading role in facilitating the AABE 2017 and the joint trade mission to South Africa, represents over 3,000 manufacturers across 10 industry groups. In line with its campaign to help manufacturers innovate, scale up and grow globally, and to play a leading role in expanding ASEAN’s business partnership with the emerging Africa market, SMF has stepped up engagement with African stakeholders in recent years.

SMF President Mr. Douglas Foo said in welcoming a South African national Parliamentary Committee visit to the SMF offices in Singapore earlier this year that the AABE and Forum would “open a gateway between the African Union and ASEAN, via the commercial hubs of Singapore and South Africa respectively”.

Foo noted: “Africa has a huge population, an emerging middle class and abundant natural resources and manufacturing companies from Singapore and the rest of ASEAN may leverage on these advantages to address the high cost of operations and the scarcity of land as a base for manufacturing.

“From SMF’s point of view Singapore has an extremely pro-business environment and can work with our manufacturing counterparts in Africa to co-produce products in Singapore. In addition, AABE and the Forum will offer opportunities for South Africa to highlight their attractive advantages and what they can offer to investors in tourism, manufacturing, mining, agricultural fields and other business opportunities.”

The AABE and AABF events are co-organised by the Singapore Manufacturing Federation and Conference & Exhibition Management Services (CEMS) in collaboration with the Johannesburg Chamber of Commerce &Industry, and is supported by the High Commission of the Republic of Singapore in Pretoria.

Other supporting organisations include the International Enterprise Singapore, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers, the Singapore Business Federation, the Singapore Contractors Association, SITF, the Singapore Water Association and the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency (GGDA).

The Africa-ASEAN Business Expo (AABE) event is free to attend, while conference seats at Africa-ASEAN Business Forum (AABF) may be reserved here.

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