By Marcos Salgado Sanchez, Dezan Shira & Associates Singapore
Marcos is the Head of Dezan Shira & Associates ASEAN advisory based out of Singapore. He is charge of advising international corporate investors on market entry and business expansion across Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. Marcos holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Law from the Complutense University of Madrid, a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management with a specialization in Finance from Edinburgh Napier University and a Master’s Degree in Business Management from the University of Huddersfield. He is a member of the Spanish Bar Association.
Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar are amongst ASEAN’s smaller economies, yet all bringing numerous opportunities for foreign investors by embracing free trade and inbound investments in the hope of better integrating themselves into the global economy.
Cambodia is set to become a hotspot for foreign direct investment in 2021. The country presents strong politically stability and a buoyant manufacturing industry which is evolving from traditional garment and footwear to high-end automation and smart technology, bringing profitable opportunities in sectors such as renewable energies – with a strong focus on solar energy and panels, telecommunications, logistics, e-commerce, food processing, electronics or agrobusiness.
As for Laos, the Government is committed to keep advancing with its “2030 Vision” despite the global pandemic, which intends to quadruple per capita GDP between 2016 and 2030. Unfortunately, Laos has been highly reliant on tourism in the past years, sector which has been abruptly disrupted due to the travel restrictions. Nonetheless, there are many industries of great attractiveness for foreign investors in 2021 such as renewable energies, manufacturing, agriculture and services. It is noteworthy to remark that infrastructure projects are expected to grow through build-operate-transfer (BOT) schemes and public-private partnerships whereas several Special Economic Zones have already been established offering interesting incentives to foreign investors.
In Myanmar, companies and businesses are still adjusting to the new reality in a period of political instability and growing uncertainty. Foreign investment into Myanmar has been growing steadily in the past decade attracting numerous projects in areas such as oil exploration, telecommunications, retail, wholesale, insurance and banking. The current political climate may have a negative impact on consolidated industries such as manufacturing or infrastructure. Nonetheless, it is still too early to jump to final conclusions and foreign investors should keep exploring the multiple opportunities that Myanmar has to offer to international businesses. We have in the last two weeks explained options in Myanmar however our view from the ground is that commerce will return to normal sooner rather than later.