KUALA LUMPUR: The American Malaysia Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) said 52% of respondents from the 2015 Asean Outlook Survey believe that Asean will not reach the Asean Economic Community (AEC) goals until 2020 or later.
“Perhaps because of that slow pace of integration, only about half of the companies so far, had an Asean regional strategy based on the AEC goals,” said executive director Anne Marie Brooks during the presentation.
He said only 4% of the 588 respondents- executives from small, medium and large United States companies in Asean thought it was likely for Asean to realise the AEC goals by the end-2015 deadline.
The AEC’s main goals are for the region to establish a single market and production base; to be highly competitive economically; to be of equitable economic development and to be fully integrated into the global economy.
Even so, 81% of respondents believe that Asean integration is an important factor in helping their companies do business in the region.
Meanwhile, 51% of respondents in the region think that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will help their companies’ regional trade and investment, with Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam leading the way.
Brooks said according to respondents in Malaysia, the two most important issues addressed by the TPP were intellectual property protection and enforcement, and a level playing field with state-owned enterprises. AMCHAM president Sanjeev Nanavati said Malaysia remained attractive because of its positive sentiment toward the US, quality of infrastructure and reasonable office lease costs.
However, there was a decline in satisfaction in some of these factors as well as heightened concern for corruption and personal security.
“Malaysia’s attractiveness within Asean continues to be strong, but the survey indicates that there are some areas where Malaysia needs to be careful about, and some areas it needs to work on to maintain its attractiveness,” said Nanavati.
He added that it was important for Malaysia to continue providing a business-friendly environment so that companies could help Malaysia become a regional hub and centre of excellence, particularly as it faced new challenges and opportunities moving up the value chain.
Malaysia plays a crucial role for American businesses operating within the Asean region, with 77% of respondents in Malaysia expecting a profit increase in 2015, up from 53% in 2014, 70% have company expansion plans, and 52% expected workforce expansion.
Business executives in Malaysia earmarked Indonesia as the most sought-after destination to expand into. The survey showed 70% of respondents indicated that their company plans to expand in Malaysia.
Notably, not a single respondent indicated contracting their business in Malaysia. AMCHAM compiled responses from 588 executives of which 60 responses were from US companies operating in Malaysia. The survey was conducted from May 5, 2014 to June 5, 2014.