Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines are among top choice for trade and investment, according to recent study by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and UOB Hong Kong Branch. 

In the research, close to 60 percent of companies in the Guangdong-Hong Kong- Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) are considering further expansion into the ASEAN countries in the next three years.

An overview of the surveyed enterprises’ current business footprints and their expected changes in the next three years shows that the trading and investment activities of GBA-based enterprises in ASEAN are mostly concentrated in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand. 

Singapore is the preferred choice for most of the GBA companies at 55.4 percent, followed by Malaysia and Vietnam at 53.0 percent and 51.1 percent respectively. 

With a combined population of 660 million in 2020, ASEAN is a huge market with many unlocked potentials. The presence of a young population, rapid economic development and the emergence of the middle class has made ASEAN a prospective for GBA-based businesses. 

Out of the respondents, 29.1 percent said that the cost-effective operation in ASEAN is an advantage, while 28.3 percent are attracted by its huge market for goods and services. 

However, few GBA-based companies are keen to use ASEAN as their production or sourcing base due to poor infrastructure in the region. 31.2 percent indicated that the infrastructure is poor and inadequate. 

Christine Ip
Christine Ip, CEO, Greater China of UOB

Christine Ip, CEO of Greater China of UOB said that UOB is committed to assisting companies in capturing overseas business opportunities through our deep sectoral expertise, strong local talents and our extensive footprint in Southeast Asia.

“Cross-border trade and investment flows between ASEAN countries and the GBA are driven by the two regions’ increasing interconnectivity and collaboration in areas such as sustainable development,” she said.

Hong Kong plays a pivotal role in aiding GBA-based businesses connect with foreign markets and its financial and services. 

Nicholas Kwan
Nicholas Kwan, Director of Research, HKTDC

Nicholas Kwan, Director of Research, HKTDC, said, Hong Kong must further foster its interconnectivity with other GBA cities and ASEAN countries in order to boost its role in facilitating two-way trade and investment flows.

He said: “When the pandemic subsides and border controls relax, cross-border trade and investment will be more active. GBA companies must reconnect with overseas buyers and partners quickly. Being the trade fair capital and business hub in Asia, Hong Kong can help GBA companies fortify ties with their counterparts in ASEAN and promote trade between the two regions.”