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Asia – Business executives optimistic about workforce across region

27 August 2013

The most attractive countries for new business expansion are Indonesia, followed by Vietnam, Thailand, and Myanmar, according to Amcham's ASEAN Business Outlook Survey. However, despite general optimism about ASEAN’s business prospects, significant challenges remain; namely corruption and personal security. 

In Brunei, only 27% of respondents expect their workforce to increase in Brunei in 2013. With regard to expatriate satisfaction, 100% of all executives responded that their expatriate employees are generally satisfied with their assignments in Brunei. More than half (55%) of respondents indicated that their employees would like to extend their time in the country. Brunei is considered to have high levels of personal security (91% of respondents agreed), with 55% of respondents dissatisfied with the availability of trained personnel.

In Cambodia, 80% of respondents expect their workforce to increase in 2013. The majority of executives (90%) report that their expatriate employees are generally satisfied with their work and 90% intend to extend their stay in Cambodia. Personal security was only considered a major strength of the country by 60% of respondents, with more than half (55%) dissatisfied with the availability of trained staff.

In Indonesia 65% of respondents anticipate increases to their workforces in 2013. Expatriate satisfaction is ranked highly with 84%. The majority of respondents (74%) report that their employees want to spend longer in Indonesia. Corruption remains a significant concern, with 80% of respondents reporting dissatisfaction. The availability of low cost labour, however, was a major strength for 53% of executives surveyed.

Only half of all executives surveyed expect their workforce to increase in Laos during 2013. Expatriate satisfaction is high with 94% of executives reporting that their employees are generally satisfied with their assignments in Laos. Personal security was the only major strength of the country with 63%. Corruption ranked as the biggest concern with 75% followed by the availability of trained personnel with 69%. 

Of the business executives in Malaysia, 73% expect to increase staff in 2013. Expatriate satisfaction ranks high with 94%, of those 81% want to stay in Malaysia longer. Corruption is considered a major concern by 53% of respondents but the available business infrastructure ranks highly with 84%. 

All business executives in Myanmar expect their workforce to increase during 2013. Only half of all expatriate employees want to extend their time in Myanmar, and expatriate satisfaction is 64%. Personal security in the biggest strength of the country with 71%. Corruption ranks quite low with 43% but the availability of trained workers in a concern for 71%.

In 2013, 67% of respondents in the Philippines expect their workforces to grow. Expatriate satisfaction and a desire to remain longer both rank highly, with 92% and 82% respectively. The availability of trained personnel is the biggest strength of the region (87%), while corruption remains the biggest weakness (59%). Personal security is considered a strength with 56% of executives responding positively.

Over half (57%) of Singapore business expect to grow their workforce during 2013. Expatriate satisfaction and employees extending their time in country both rank highly, with 94% and 83% respectively. Personal security ranks highly with 93%, as does a lack of corruption (87%). The availability of low cost labour is a major concern for 48% of respondents.

In Thailand, 57% of respondents expect their workforce to increase in 2013, while 37% expect it to remain static. Almost all (93%) expatriate employees are generally satisfied with their assignments in Thailand, and 79% would like to extend their stay. Personal security was rated Thailand’s biggest strength. Corruption was the biggest concern for 71%, the availability of trained personnel also ranked as a concern for 42% of respondents.  

Executives in Vietnam responded that 61% intend to expand their workforce in 2013. Expatriate satisfaction is generally quite high at 81% with 73% intending to extend their stay in-country. Corruption remains a big concern for 70% of respondents. Personal security is considered a strength for 55%.

The survey reports the views of American business executives across Southeast Asia and the United States. Looking ahead, respondents are optimistic with 91% expecting their companies’ trade and investment in ASEAN to increase over the next five year. 

To read the full survey, please click here.

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