US firms optimistic on business prospects in Asean

Companies in the United States remain upbeat about business prospects in the Asean region, according to a survey released on Tuesday by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham Singapore) and the US Chamber of Commerce.

In a poll of 475 senior executives from US firms operating across the region, 79 per cent said their company's level of trade and investment in Asean rose over the past two years. An overwhelming 91 per cent of those surveyed expect it to increase over the next five years.

The survey also showed that respondents based in Singapore cited greater business satisfaction than those in any other Asean country.

Major strengths in Singapore include a stable government and political system, and laws and regulations, with 90 per cent and 84 per cent of respondents respectively indicating satisfaction.

But challenges for businesses here include the lack of low-cost labor, high office lease costs, and high housing costs.

The survey also found substantial concerns and impediments to companies' growth in the region.

Corruption was the top issue in the region, with the majority of respondents in all countries except Brunei and Singapore expressing dissatisfaction.

Business leaders also cited burdensome laws and regulations as obstacles to greater investment, as well as the poor quality of infrastructure, and the difficulty in moving products through customs in some countries.