Corruption a Major Concern in SE Asia: Survey

SINGAPORE ~ Corruption is a concern for US businesses operating in Southeast Asia, according to results of a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Singapore.

The survey, which polled AmCham members in six countries, showed corruption was regarded as a significant factor impacting business in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Singapore was the only country polled out of the six where corruption was regarded as a non-issue, the results showed.

“This (corruption), combined with concerns about the lack of predictability and stability in government regulations in several countries … is a vital competitiveness issue which ASEAN must seriously address,” said Dom LaVigne, executive director of AmCham Singapore.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in which the six countries are members of, is a 10-nation grouping. The other four members are Brunei, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

In Indonesia, 86 percent of AmCham members there polled felt corruption was a significant factor, in Malaysia the figure was 51 percent, in the Philippines 72 percent, Thailand 63 percent and in Vietnam 67 percent.

Overall, 62 percent of those polled in the six countries also expect Southeast Asia will be more important over the next two years due mainly to the region’s continued strong economic growth, the survey showed.

A key challenge for ASEAN lies in how the region can integrate their respective markets, said LaVigne.

“While ASEAN continues to play an important role for our member companies’ bottom lines, finding ways to achieve regional integration and to make ASEAN a more seamless and transparent market for doing business is of great importance to our members,” he said.

“ASEAN has become a more important for American businesses. The challenge is really ASEAN integration and how that is going to play out.”

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