Australia’s internationally active businesses well positioned for an integrated ASEAN

08 Oct 2018


  • Divya Skene
  • AIBS 2018

One of the main themes picked up by the AIBS is the importance of ASEAN to Australia’s internationally active businesses.

Previous surveys in the AIBS series have shown that Australia’s neighbourhood of ASEAN is already a significant region for SMEs. Last year’s analysis of leading revenue sources and goods and services FTA destinations, highlights the importance of ASEAN.

ASEAN a top source of SME revenue

While AIBS 2018 confirms the dominant role of China and the US for SMEs in our sample engaged in international business, at least one country in the ASEAN region is a top two revenue generator for 27 per cent of AIBS 2018 respondents. On this basis at least, the Southeast Asian bloc is more important to Australian firm-level revenue than either of the top two leading countries, the US and China.

ASEAN's economic growth, scale, youthful demographics and complementary sectors across modern and emerging markets are some of the reasons why the region has captured the imagination of SME businesses.

Further details on firms with ASEAN as a top revenue source is shown below.

Regions and international revenue

Australian firms are well positioned for inter-regional business in ASEAN

This year we looked at whether firms that started in ASEAN went on to earn their highest revenue in an ASEAN market. We also asked whether those with ASEAN as a top market have ambitions to expand further in ASEAN.

  • Just over two-thirds of respondents that started undertaking international business in an ASEAN market went on to source their highest revenues from an ASEAN market.
  • Of the 27 percent of respondents for which ASEAN is at least a leading revenue source, 44 per cent of them aim to expand further into the region.

The results suggest Australia’s internationally active businesses are well positioned to take advantage of the ASEAN economic community.

This graphic provides details on our respondent businesses by top revenue market, and their interest in future expansion into ASEAN.

Expansion into ASEAN