Southeast Asia is a fascinating and multicultural region. Towards the turn of the century, it experienced unprecedented and explosive economic growth. But a business can’t enter this promising region without cultural insight. Check out this free e-book to discover how to navigate ASEAN business culture.
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Southeast Asia is conformed by the Philippines, Laos, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. Currently, around 593 million people live in this region. Consequently, the ASEAN market accounts for almost 8% of the total world population.
This makes Southeast Asia extremely attractive for doing business since it represents a huge market that in many areas is still underserved, although it has experienced explosive economic growth in recent years.
Towards the turn of the century, China’s new commercial approach favored many countries in Southeast Asia and alleviated the high levels of poverty that this region suffered. In 1997, an economic crisis somewhat stagnated the growth, but the region could recover and remains a relevant business hub.
Southeast Asia is a diverse region, culturally and development-wise. In countries like Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, most people don’t have access to credit and experience significant infrastructural deficits. Meanwhile, countries like Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore are celebrated as economic wonders.
Due to different political experiences, economic development has distributed unevenly across the region. Regulation and infrastructure vary between countries, as well as culture and language. Consequently, we may assert that talking about “doing business in Southeast Asia” is inaccurate and misleading. Not only are there significant differences between countries, but also within them. Because of this, the most competitive approach is to concentrate your business efforts in a single country. This ensures you properly recognize and address cultural nuances, as well as technological barriers, leading to better business performance.
After covering the region’s differences, you might be asking: what are the similarities? Western individuals will note that gaining the trust of business partners from Southeast Asia takes some time, and requires more than a single trip to the region. This also relates to the fact that people here are not in a hurry when it comes to decision-making. They prefer a more calm approach to business, so Persistence is the key to gaining confidence with Southeast Asian partners and customers.
Overall, the region favors innovative and open-minded entrepreneurs. The language diversity between and within countries will require you to hire top-quality translation services, with experience and flexibility. If you want to disembark, be ready for huge challenges: your efforts will pay off in the long term.
In this e-book, we take a look at business etiquette and local customs you need to be aware of to build lasting relationships in Southeast Asia.