Export to Southeast Asia: where to start?

Southeast Asia remains to be one of the most promising regions to find your new market. The ASEAN block of countries offers an array of opportunities to reach new consumers. Each country however has its own stage of development, spending power per capita and cultural characteristics.


Cambodia is underdeveloped but due to its centralized location, cheap labor, and abundant agriculture, it has become very attractive to foreign investors.


  • Mining due to untapped reserves.
  • Extensive land for agriculture.
  • Ancestral sites for tourism.
  • Infrastructure projects to find a solution to the underdeveloped situation in Cambodia.


In Southeast Asia, Indonesia has the largest economy and it is consistently growing.


  • Indonesia’s infrastructure is relatively underdeveloped and leaves room for opportunities on improvement.
  • Shipping and ports are underdeveloped as well and the country aims to improve these as well.
  • Agriculture, food, and beverage exports appear bright and is still contributing to economic growth.
  • Oil and gas prices remain high and this has forced the country to look for old and closed wells and apply innovative ways to rehabilitate it.
  • Indonesia has large reserves conducive for mining.
  • Power is another challenge for the country and they aim to increase the supply of power through proper funding.


A landlocked country who seeks to extend itself into the free market economy and to expand its trade and investment activity.


  • Rich sources of hydropower and low domestic demand lead to more energy exports. More energy exports will also lead to a demand in equipment, parts, and components for harnessing electricity.
  • Mineral production has increased and due to commodity price increase, this has made the country more interested in mining development. In light of this, it comes naturally that mining equipment would also be in demand.
  • Tourism as a means of generating foreign revenue due to rugged terrain and affordable prices.
  • The environment in Laos is in need of rehabilitation and the environmental sector provides opportunities to those who wish to take part in the restoration of Laos’ resources.


This country has been blessed with natural resources and has become a source of high tech goods and electronic services.


  • Notable gas and oil reserves that attract foreign investors.
  • The country aims to be the center for the aerospace industry specializing in aircraft maintenance, repair, and overhaul.
  • In the agriculture, food, and beverage sector, there is a demand for convenience foods, processed commodities, health, and organic foods that the country cannot supply on its own.

The Philippines

The Philippines is one of the largest markets in Southeast Asia and with an eclectic mix of potentials and opportunities.


  • The country still exports some of its agricultural products to the rest of the world though not as much as before.
  • The young population with the disposable incomes heavily influences the food and beverage industry.
  • Extractive industries are a potential for investment. The industries may be new but are quite promising.
  • Maintaining and upgrading the information technology prowess of the country is considered a priority for the economy.
  • A potential to improve the country’s infrastructure.
  • The country also aims to harness power through renewable energy sources.
  • Due to the country being an archipelago, the country relies heavily on the improvement of transportation.


This small ASEAN country prides itself in an advanced, modern economy. It is known as the most open economy in the world for foreign trade and investment.


  • Singapore deals in imports of electronic supplies and continuously finds ways to develop it.
  • Developing oil and gas petrochemical refining industries.
  • In an effort to know more about science, devices and instruments needed for this is in demand.
  • Environmental science is considered a priority. Thus, clean technology development will appeal to scientific talent and foreign investment.
  • Information technology generates a big portion of the country’s revenue and they have decided to invest heavily on this sector.
  • A continuous effort in pursuing pharmaceuticals and bio-medical technology has led to more opportunities in resources needed for doing such.


The second-largest economy and the country that has withstood challenges and whose economy is growing despite it all.


  • A leading automotive manufacturing center in Asia constantly attracting foreign investors.
  • A leading exporter in agriculture, food, and beverage contributing to economic growth.
  • Information technology constantly being worked on for improvement and more room for opportunities.


A growing economy and a promising one at that.


  • A large exporter of agriculture and agri-food due to its fertile soil.
  • Investments in hydropower is quite significant due to the abundant hydro resources.
  • Oil and natural gas is exported from the country all the time and this sector appears to be very promising for further foreign investments.

The countries in the ASEAN is a good component for your export plan. Each country offers a variety of sectors any country can invest in. The opportunities are endless.

This entry in Asia was updated on 8 May 2021 by specialist.