The ASEAN economic region forms Asia’s third largest economy after China and Japan and is the fourth largest import market in the world, with 600 million people and a combined GDP of more than US$2.3 trillion. British Columbia exporters are in an ideal position to seize the market opportunities in this thriving region.
Since 2011, exports to the Philippines have grown 48% and British Columbia has emerged as the largest provincial exporter to the Philippines, with 41% of national exports in 2014. Our main exports to Southeast Asia are raw materials such as lumber, wood pulp and copper ores.
KEY SECTOR OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPORTERS
Southeast Asia’s growing population and ongoing urbanization is driving interest in higher value farm products. As well, the growing middle class in the region is developing a preference for foods that are more convenient, nutritious and packaged in environmentally friendly ways. British Columbia’s agrifood producers are in an excellent position to capitalize on the opportunities in this market.
There are a diverse range of opportunities for British Columbia companies in the Southeast Asia’s technology sub-sectors. Common trends in the ICT/Wireless sub sector include rising Internet use and investment in mobile, with rates of mobile usage skyrocketing in the past 10 years. For clean technology the emphasis in the region is on renewable energy, water and waste water management, and green buildings. In the life sciences sector, significant opportunities exist in biopharmaceuticals, healthcare IT, and the supply of medical devices, with six of the largest countries in the region relying heavily on imported medical devices.
Southeast Asia is a major importer of forestry products, with consumption steadily growing in the emerging economies of the region. Softwood dominates British Columbia’s forestry exports to the region, but opportunities also exist for low grade construction lumber that could be reused.
The rapid pace of economic growth and urbanization in Southeast Asia is driving demand for natural resources, both from within the region and from the direct sourcing of minerals. British Columbia is a major supplier of minerals and mineral products to the ASEAN countries, such as copper ores, zinc and sulphur. Opportunities to utilize British Columbia’s expertise in metallurgy, environmental engineering, mine safety, and geoscience also exist.
Southeast Asia’s transportation development varies by country. However, all of the emerging ASEAN markets have ambitious programs to raise the capacity and quality of their transportation infrastructure (ports, rail, roads), representing a huge opportunity for British Columbia suppliers of planning, engineering and environmental services.