US firms doubt ASEAN's 2015 single-market goal

PHOTO: US firms doubt ASEAN's 2015 single-market goal

UNITED STATES - Two leading United States business groups yesterday said US firms operating in ASEAN countries are sceptical that the regional bloc can meet a 2015 deadline to establish a single market.

ASEAN has set 2015 as the target for creating a single regional economic market known as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

In a survey of 475 senior US business executives from the region - jointly conducted by the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and the US Chamber of Commerce - 52 per cent said they "do not think that the AEC's goals will be realised by 2015".

Of those who doubt ASEAN will reach its deadline, nearly 60 per cent "think that ASEAN will not meet AEC's goals until 2020 or later".

Only 23 per cent of all executives questioned believe that ASEAN will meet its 2015 goal, the poll showed.

Despite their scepticism, the survey showed that US companies are optimistic about overall business prospects in the region.

US firms said their level of trade and investment in ASEAN rose over the past two years, and expect this figure to climb over the next five years.

Indonesia was named the most attractive country for new business expansion, followed by Vietnam, Thailand and Myanmar.

The Philippines showed the biggest improvement in its business environment between 2008 and this year, the survey said.

ASEAN also comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore.