Doing business: Southeast Asia

Doing business in Southeast Asia

With a combined gross domestic product of US$ 2.6 trillion and a fast-growing market covering over 630 million consumers, Southeast Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic regions. Its size, location and diversity provide interesting business opportunities for Dutch companies in a wide variety of areas, including agri & food, horticulture, water, energy and transport & logistics.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional organisation comprising ten Southeast Asian states, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. ASEAN member states are working together to promote political and economic cooperation and regional stability.

Although far from complete, the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 has been a milestone in the integration process of the memer states' economies into a single market. This approach has served the region well. The region's combined GDP reached US$2.5 trillion in 2016, making the collective ASEAN economy the 6th largest in the world and the 3rd largest in Asia. The region attracted US$121 billion in foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2015 and total trade reached US$2,6 trillion in 2015, which means the 4th largest share of total global trade after China, the USA and Germany.

The region has trade agreements with many countries in the region and the EU has concluded free trade agreements with several ASEAN countries over the past years, while negotiations with other ASEAN countries are ongoing or will be started soon. The EU is a major investor and trading partner in ASEAN and the Netherlands is one of the largest EU investors and EU trading partners.

Opportunities for Dutch companies

More information about business opportunities in key sectors in Southeast Asia can be found here. The specific country pages (see the links below) will provide you with more in-depth information on the respective countries and priority sectors.

Government support to Dutch companies

Together with the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (, a trade network of seven embassies and a consulate-general, the Netherlands' government provides support to Dutch entrepreneurs doing business in Southeast Asia and to those starting to explore the Southeast Asian market. For more information about our services, please see ‘What we can do for you?’.