Most speakers and delegates to a conference on “ASEAN Opportunity” have expressed their belief that UK businesses will benefit when doing business in Southeast Asia.

The conference was held by Asia House in London on July 10 under the sponsorship of the UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC).

The keynote speaker, Dr Lim Hong Hin, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for the ASEAN Economic Community, said that once the ASEAN Economic Community, one of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community, is completed by 2015, it will mark the time ASEAN countries reach their final target of economic integration which was set in the ASEAN Vision to 2020.

AEC will help form a stable and prosperous economic zone with high competitiveness, he said, adding that ASEAN has a stable society, skillful workers, young population and low costs in its advantage.

The European Union is currently ASEAN’s third largest trade partner, he said, forecasting that trade cooperation between the two region will develop strongly, especially after the official inauguration of AEC .

ASEAN countries are willing to create favourable conditions for UK businesses to seek investment opportunities and business cooperation in the region.

Many delegates at the conference said it is not by chance when more British politicians visited ASEAN countries in 2012 than at any time in the past 20 years.

This engagement with the region is evidence of the shift in foreign policy of the UK government towards a greater focus on economic diplomacy in emerging markets, they said.

They further said that ASEAN is considered one of the largest emerging economies in the world, thus strengthening relations with Southeast Asia will bring benefit to both UK business and political circles.

According to the UKABC, the UK already exports in excess of 15 billion USD to the Southeast Asia region. UK politicians expect the figure to double in the next 3-5 years.-VNA