AmCham survey finds Philippines most improved business climate in ASEAN

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The Philippines was the most improved in business environment among ASEAN countries, a new survey of American firms operating in the region revealed, despite continuing concerns of corruption, tax structure, and infrastructure.


Based on the 2013 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in 10 countries in ASEAN revealed that from 2008 to 2013, the Philippines showed the greatest improvement in its business environment.

The most attractive countries for new business expansion are Indonesia, followed by Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar.

The AmChams surveyed 475 business leaders from US companies on their investment plans, outlook for the region, and perceptions of some of the key challenges and opportunities throughout the 10-member country ASEAN region.

On the Philippines, the survey showed that corruption topped the list of concerns with 59 percent followed by tax structure (56%), infrastructure (54%), laws and regulations (46%), and ease of moving products through customs (44%).

With the exception of corruption, these concerns have remained quite consistent over the last five years, the survey said.

Satisfaction in the Philippines increased across fourteen of the sixteen business factors over the last five years, led by a 50% increase in satisfaction with the stability of the government and political system.

The latest survey showed that 87% of respondents are satisfied with the availability of trained personnel in the Philippines, the highest percentage in ASEAN. Corruption, insufficient infrastructure, and the tax structure remain challenges in the country, but it is clear business leaders have seen significant progress in recent years.

Other areas of satisfaction include sentiment toward the US (79%) - also the highest percentage in ASEAN, availability of low cost labor (74%), stable government and political system (62%), personal security (56%), housing costs (56%), office lease costs (51%), new business incentives offered by government (44%), free movement of goods within the region (41%), availability of raw materials (38%).

Overall, U.S. companies remain optimistic about business prospects in the ASEAN) with 79% reported that their company’s level of trade and investment in ASEAN increased over the past two years, and an overwhelming 91% of respondents expect it to increase over the next five years.

Sixty-three percent of respondents said that over the past two years, ASEAN markets have grown as a portion of their companies’ worldwide revenues. Thirty-three percent also said that ASEAN markets’ importance has held steady over the past two years.

Further, the majority of respondents (73%) say that ASEAN markets will become more important to their companies’ worldwide revenues over the next two years.

Some business leaders show interest in diversifying their investments from China into the ASEAN region over the next two years, but the majority do not. (Manila Bulletin)