Financial Times- “Asean: Long on Optimism”

By : Jeremy Grant | July 22, 2014

“When online travel search company Skyscanner wanted to expand in Asia, its management decided not to try China first, even though it may have offered the biggest prospects.

Instead, the Edinburgh-based group set up an office in Singapore in 2011, sensing that the time was right to focus on southeast Asia. A presence in Beijing and Shenzhen followed, but Skyscanner now employs 80 people in Singapore overseeing a part of Asia that is one of its fastest growing: the countries that form the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

But none of this seems to have dented the case for Asean – yet. This month the EU mission in Singapore announced plans for the first “business missions” to southeast Asia funded by the European Commisison for 120 small- and medium-sized enterprises. “Many companies are looking at the Asean growth story for the first time while Europe is in relative decline,” says Hans Vriens, managing partner of Vriens & Partners, a Singapore-based consultancy. “And that doesn’t get derailed by something like political risk.”

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