The business imperative of investing in Asia is not up for debate: more than half the world’s consumers reside within Asia. What’s more, Asian countries – particularly those of Southeast Asia – are bucking the global aging trend; while the average age of the U.S.’s and Europe’s populations continue to rise, Asia’s are young and increasingly well educated, forming a growing middle class consisting of consummate consumers.
Which countries are most favorable to investment? Check out our ranking below.
As the Socialist country opens up its markets, advances in sustainable development in food processing, garment manufacturing, machine building, and mining are all spurring growth. Reforms will continue to unlock economic opportunity for investors. And the country provides affordable, talented, and ambitious workers, yielding high productivity at a low cost.
China is the world’s second-largest economy and most populous country. And though economic growth has slowed since its decades-long double-digit increases, it is still one of the fastest growing markets owing to its continued modernization and globalization efforts. China provides skilled, inexpensive labor while newly opened Free Trade Zones are making foreign investments even more economical. Increased focus on Chinese environmental challenges and improving citizens’ quality of life also provide opportunities for businesses.
Cambodia’s increasingly well-educated and literate workforce is still among Asia’s least expensive—and youngest (61% of Cambodians are under age 25). Political stability, 100% foreign ownership allowances, and incentives make investment attractive. Untapped natural resources and urbanization provide additional opportunities.
A new governing administration is bringing about economic changes in the Philippines, including improvements to policies that will better serve foreign investors. Expect lower taxes for businesses and citizens, enabling a boost in spending. Infrastructure investments will also catalyze growth, bringing more development to previously underserved rural areas of the country.
Low labor costs and the availability of raw materials has made Indonesia a longtime favorite of foreign investors. Its young population and political stability have encouraged substantial economic growth—more than 6% this decade. And while Indonesia is well-established as a manufacturer of goods, it is developing beyond labor-intensive industries to accommodate an increasingly well-educated market.
India is the new China—a huge and diverse market with tons of room for economic growth. Reductions in the corporate tax rate will entice business startups and established multinationals alike to set up shop here. Thanks to its educated, English-speaking workforce, India has already become a powerhouse in IT and software development services, oftentimes engaging Western customers as the locus of outsourced contract employees.
Anyone with extensive travel experience can confirm Bangkok’s role as the gateway to Southeast Asia. So, too, is Thailand the gateway to economic opportunities in the region. A growing economy, advanced infrastructure, competitive human capital, and government support (with a low 20% corporate tax rate) are all reasons why investors continue to flock to this kingdom.
Japan continues to be a safe bet for investors. This is especially true now that the current government is carrying out major reforms to jump-start the economy. Japan has a mature median-income market, making for space to grow in areas like consumer tech. Add in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and expect an acceleration in infrastructure construction and spending.
More than half of Malaysia’s multiethnic, well-educated population of 31 million is online—and spends more than four hours a day connected thanks to an advanced infrastructure. English-speaking technologists are pursuing innovative arenas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, and more. Yet, the workforce and rental properties are more affordable here than in neighboring countries—savings that more than 5000 multinational companies are already taking advantage of.
Singapore is known as one of the world’s easiest places to do business. And no wonder: The Singapore government makes great efforts to attract and retain businesses with low tax rates and pro-innovation laws protecting intellectual property rights, encouraging pharmaceutical and technology advancements. It has also supported initiatives to develop and test new ways to address urban living, wellness, aging, and health care as part of its Future Ready Singapore program.
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