US – ASEAN and why I am bullish about ASEAN


Let me start off with some key stats (statistics and statements) around the long distance relationship between the United States and ASEAN:

  1. ASEAN is the United States 4th largest export market. At $75.5 billion in 2012, exports to ASEAN created or supported over 472,000 jobs in the US (source: US ASEAN Business Council).
  2. California ($11.4B), Texas ($11.2B), Washington ($5B) Oregon ($3.75B), Illinois ($2.65B), and New York ($2B) had over $2 billion in exports to ASEAN in 2010. (source: US ASEAN Business Council)
  3. The average ASEAN consumer purchases nearly 1.75 times as many U.S. goods per capita as the average Chinese consumer, and nearly nine times as many as the average Indian consumer. (Beat that!)
  4. FDI net inflows in ASEAN from the U.S. is about 8.8% (for the period 2012 – 2014), higher than money coming from China and only second to Japan. (source: ASEAN)

Why am I throwing so much numbers about the US-ASEAN romance? Simply because we felt that love is in the air and I want to share the love to all fellow ASEAN comrades (sounded cheesy, I know).

We (see the lucky ones in the picture) were fortunate enough to have attended the US ASEAN Conference in San Francisco a couple of weeks ago. Triip was invited to speak about their experience as founders in the growing ASEAN region. What amazed us was that the audience in the U.S. understood the opportunity and challenges to be running a startup in ASEAN. There were lots of interests, but what was not there was the official linkage to a better collaborative route.

(Repeating myself again) ASEAN is an economic group of 10 countries with over US$2.4 billion of production capacity. The scene has just gotten more interesting with the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). As much as people from the outside view ASEAN as a fragmented market, the formation of AEC helps foreign investors from the U.S. to get a good feel of the region throw one single counter of interaction. Hence, out of the sudden, ASEAN becomes much bigger that how it used to be prior to 2015.

What other stats should you be aware of:

  1. ASEAN is the 3rd largest economy in Asia and the world’s 7th largest
  2. ASEAN is the number one destination for US investment in Asia ASEAN investment in the US has grown over 1,400% and US investment in ASEAN has increased 169% since 2001.
  3. 36% of Asian Americans trace their ethnicity to an ASEAN country.
  4. The number of individuals from ASEAN countries choosing to become US citizens has increased 33% in a decade and about 12% of all US naturalizations each year are by individuals from ASEAN countries (these includes our fellow comrades from Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia etc who are working with Google, Quora, Facebook and other tech giants).
  5. Students from ASEAN countries contribute over $1.4 billion to the US economy each year and 4,600 US students study in ASEAN countries (we Asians love to study)
  6. 7% of US jobs from exports are supported by exports to ASEAN

US Jobs supported by ASEAN

So what do these stats means for all of us who are still in ASEAN? You are sitting in a hot spot! So hot that you need to go cool down in a bucket of ice every five minutes (perform at your own risk)!

Why am I bullish about ASEAN?

  1. Increasing interests from the U.S. as well as other giants like China
  2. An increasing number of good talent as a result of knowledge transfers from those who were trained by the likes of Facebook, Misfit etc
  3. Language is no longer on top of the “challenger” list as companies are learning how to accommodate to local market demands. It is a self selection process, whoever who can’t adapt will simply get kicked off the market.
  4. We are young! Average age of an ASEAN country go as low as 21 and the highest is about 37. We are still productive and spending.

This is probably one of the most poorly written piece that I have done, but then you get my point.

More spamming of pics!


Triip’s Ha (the only female – go girl power!)


Til next time.