BUSAN -- Some 75 trade agencies from 10 Southeast Asian countries gathered at the ASEAN-ROK Business Expo for a two-day investment seminar as part of the commemorative summit held in Busan, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency said Nov. 26.
The seminar, dubbed Invest ASEAN 2019, featured booth exhibitions and presentations before some 500 in attendance, representing over 300 Korean companies at Bexco. It was co-hosted by Kotra and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
Kotra CEO Kwon Pyung-oh (left) speak to a group of delegates from Malaysia led by Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad (second from right, front row) at ASEAN-ROK Business Expo on Nov. 25.
While 9 in 10 outbound direct investments from Korea goes to the ASEAN region, recent trends have showed Vietnam stands out as the go-to destination for Korean money.
Of $5.3 billion in outbound investments in 2017, $3.1 billion solely went to Vietnam, while eight other ASEAN countries, excluding Singapore, each received less than $500 million in investments for 2017, showed data from the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
The seminar event is meant to shed light on underestimated investment opportunities across ASEAN region, not limited to Vietnam, a high-level official at Kotra said.
“(Invest ASEAN 2019) was designed to show diversity in terms of investment opportunities to Korean companies, by offering a quick comparison between 10 ASEAN countries,” Yoo In-hong, director-general of Overseas Investment Reshoring Support Department at Kotra, told The Investor.
During the presentations, trade agencies from 10 countries -- Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia -- offered the audience a glimpse into how Koreans could be incentivized in its direct investment into the respective nations.
Ranging from ample infrastructure development projects to low labor cost, natural resources, demographic sweet spots, tax relief packages and annual economic growth at over 5 percent on average in the past four years, these incentives can offer a wider scope of collaboration for Korean companies or investors, presenters said.
For example, the Thailand Board of Investment highlighted its strengthening supply chain in the automotive and smart electronics sectors in its nationwide push for the “fourth industrial revolution.” The Philippines Board of Investments also underlined growth of value-added manufacturing in these sectors, including for high-tech electric vehicles.
In comparison, Laos’ Investment and Planning Department introduced cases for infrastructure projects in railways, highways and logistics, while agencies from Indonesia pointed to opportunities in industrial zone infrastructure and tourism.
“Many Korean companies have already landed in the Vietnam market, and other ASEAN countries still have room for collaborations with Korean firms, and the question is what stage they are at and what fields or sectors are being promoted when it comes to the viability of partnership,” Yoo said.
The two-day event also led to three partnerships between ASEAN agencies and Korean firms.
Invest ASEAN 2019 was one of three events co-hosted by Kotra, along with ASEAN-ROK Smart City Fair 2019 and MDB Project Plaza 2019.
By Son Ji-hyoung (firstname.lastname@example.org)