The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), a trade-driven block of 10 Southeast Asian nations, has gained tremendous momentum in the past 50 years. Founded as a political bloc of five Southeast Asian countries, ASEAN has evolved into a 10-member economic powerhouse and is now home to some of the world’s fastest growing emerging markets.
In the decades ahead, ASEAN is expected to write a new growth story with its rich resource reserves and established manufacturing base which will only be strengthened by the regional economic integration agenda of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Vietnam offers extreme opportunities and challenges. On one hand, it is one of the fastest growing economies in ASEAN, with rising urbanization, an emerging middle class, and a young, dynamic, English-speaking labor force. On the other hand, Vietnam still ranks low for ease of doing business because of its bureaucratic regulatory environment.
Recent participation in over 40 bilateral and multilateral trade agreements has attracted a large amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Vietnam and it is one of the main drivers of the economy. Besides the existing framework of tax incentives, an improving record on transparency, external commitments with international trading partners have been a powerful influencer in keeping Vietnam’s domestic reform programs on track.