An electronics production line in Vietnam (Illustrative image. Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) –
Southeast Asia has surpassed China to become the region most likely to produce the best investment returns, as the ongoing trade war between China and the US puts a chill on the world’s second-largest economy, according to a survey at the recent Asian Financial Forum 2019.

About 39 percent of respondents viewed Southeast Asia as having the best investment returns, while 35 percent voted for China and 16 percent for the US.

Reporting on the survey, the South China Morning Post noted that last year, about 55 percent of respondents to a similar survey said China would offer the best investment returns in 2018.

The Hong Kong newspaper cited statistics in 2017 which showed that the foreign direct investment (FDI) poured into ASEAN countries increased to a record of 137 billion USD, 14 billion USD higher versus 2016.

In a report announced in November 2018, three ASEAN member nations, namely Vietnam, Indonesia and Singapore, made up around 72 percent of the FDI flow into the bloc.

Raymond Chao, chairman for PwC audit firm in Asia-Pacific and Greater China, said Vietnam was another hotspot identified in a recent PwC poll of chief executives at Asia-Pacific companies.

“We surveyed CEOs across the region where they wanted to put their money in the next 12 months. For two years in a row, Vietnam has come out on top,” he was quoted by the newspaper.

The South China Morning Post also said according to economists, the US-China trade war is likely to hurt some ASEAN economies, but if they could take advantage from this conflict, they could get benefits.

Many foreign companies have moved their production facilities from China to ASEAN to avoid high taxes from the US.

For Japanese businesses, the trend of shifting to ASEAN is expected to last for many more years, focusing on manufacturing, infrastructure building, and services.

In 2018, ASEAN still made progresses in implementing five economic arrows outlined by Singapore, ASEAN Chair during the year, thanks to reasonable adjustments in economic policies. The five economic priorities are promoting innovation and e-commerce; further facilitating trade activities; increasing services and investment integration; creating favourable legal environment; and enhancing extra-bloc relations.

In 2017, the combined GDP of ASEAN reached 2.8 trillion USD, a year-on-year rise of 5.3 percent, which was higher than the 4.8 percent recorded in the previous year.

Experts forecast the bloc’s GDP growth will be maintained at 5.1 percent and 5.2 percent in 2018 and 2019 respectively.-VNA