Doing Business in South East Asia

The Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, organized on Monday, 8th of May the ASEAN Day.

The aim of the event was to contribute to the celebrations of the 40th Anniversary of the EU-ASEAN relations. By bringing together ASEAN Ambassadors, ASEAN Trade Attachés and experts in Europe and ASEAN capitals with private sector representatives from Luxembourg, this event constituted a unique occasion for Luxembourg based companies to explore business opportunities, to discuss directly and engage interactively with these representatives from 10 countries which have more than twice the population of the US.

As mentioned by Guy Berg, Deputy Head of the Representation of the European Commission in Luxembourg, ASEAN and the EU, with their own dynamics, objectives and contexts, are not only natural partners, but probably the two most ambitious regional integration organizations in the world. The commercial and political ties between the EU and their partners in Southeast Asia have existed for centuries and have grown into what is today one of the most important exchanges of goods, services and investments in the world. Both regions can look back at 40 years of friendship characterized by their shared goal of peace and prosperity for its people, and look forward to further deepening relations based on trust, mutual respect, common interests and values.

In this regard, Marc Ungeheuer, Secretary General of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, underlined that this is also true as far as relations of Luxembourg and ASEAN Member States are concerned. Luxembourg has been committed to support ASEAN’s community building efforts and is further committed today to deepen its relations with the 10 ASEAN countries.

Regarding the economic and trade relations between Luxembourg and ASEAN, Carlo Thelen, Director General, Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce, mentioned that since many investments are taking advantage of Luxembourg as a financial center with state of the art bilateral agreements for non-double taxation, Luxembourg quite often comes in the top 10 investors to ASEAN countries. In addition, Luxembourg companies nowadays conduct business in each of the ASEAN countries and it goes beyond trade of products and commodities, into investments and production on a stand-alone basis or with a local joint-venture partner. It is also true that many Luxembourg companies are geared towards foreign markets with a very high degree of proficiency in their respective sector of activity and are quite often the world leader in their sector. However, more and more SME’s venture towards ASEAN countries with a growing interest in the region and the EU set up a series of initiatives to accompany SME’s into these markets.

The fact that over the last 15 years, Luxembourg took more than 25 Trade Missions, organized by the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce and the Ministry of the Economy, is a sign that Luxembourg attaches utmost importance in developing trade with ASEAN countries.

Mr. Luca Lazzaroli, Director General of Operations, EIB, underlined that thanks to the EIB, Luxembourg has also be known in the ASEAN region through various cooperation programmes. Mr. Lazzaroli seized this opportunity and kindly invited all ASEAN countries to come up with interesting projects in line with the EIB investment policies, projects which could contribute to strengthen regional prosperity, stability and security, and thus supporting ASEAN regional integration.

H.E. Yuri Thamrin, Ambassador of Indonesia to Belgium, Luxembourg and the European Union, stressed that optimism about ASEAN’s future remains as strong as ever.

This confidence is driven by the growth potential of ASEAN markets which is powered by large, youthful populations, strong consumer sentiment and deep pools of skilled workforces. Additionally, ASEAN Member states are embracing external trade as a driver for growth and stability.

Nevertheless, global political debates are challenging the benefits of open trade and investment. On the other side there is still some work which needs to be done in order to accelerate implementation of harmonization of standards and technical regulations and in order to enhance information exchange on laws, rules, and regulatory regimes on standards.

Therefore, in the framework of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, the European Union and Luxembourg welcome and offer their full support to the efforts made by ASEAN countries in harmonizing and implementing policies as well as regulations in the various economic sectors.  It is clear that this blueprint will contribute to achieve an inclusive, competitive, innovative and people-centered community, with enhanced connectivity and sectorial cooperation.

Thus, the dictum of this ASEAN DAY was very clear: We work better, when we work together! Hence, the importance of promoting closer trade and investment links with ASEAN.

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