Southeast Asia is our neighbour and vital to our growth and prosperity. Southeast Asia is diverse and complex, accounting for 11 different economies, which all share a vibrancy that can be seen in the region’s young and increasingly urbanised, connected and educated populations.

Southeast Asia’s economic growth trajectory is compelling. Countries across the region have experienced significant economic growth over the last several decades. Home to powerhouses and emerging economies of the 21st century such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam, the region’s growth path is set to become stronger and more dynamic. Southeast Asia has a population of more than 630 million people. If the region was a single country, it would already be the fifth-largest economy in the world, with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $US2.5 trillion in 2017. The region continues to outpace global economic growth rates. By 2030, the region is forecast to be the world’s fourth largest economy.

The countries of Southeast Asia have one of the largest combined labour forces in the world. Currently experiencing a demographic dividend – economic growth resulting from the age structure of a country’s population – the region’s working-age population is expected to account for 68 per cent of its total population by 2025.

The region’s shift to urban centres will drive demand for premium goods and innovative services. The United Nations estimates that more than 26 cities in Southeast Asia will have populations of more than 1 million by 2030. The establishment and growth of second and third tier mega-cities in Southeast Asia will require a range of infrastructure, services, connectivity and supply chains.

With Southeast Asia’s number of middle-class households set to quadruple, from 38 million in 2015 to 161 million by 2030, the region is experiencing rapid growth in household wealth. As households’ purchasing power and disposable incomes continue to grow, so will demand for premium agricultural goods, innovative services, international travel, and high-quality education and training and healthcare.

Southeast Asian countries have made some of the most significant advances in technology and the digital economy in the world. In 2017, Southeast Asian countries had over 854 million active mobile phone subscriptions – or over 133 per cent of the region’s population. Increasingly, the region’s digital transformation is determining the way people live and do business.

Opportunities for Victorians looking to do business with Southeast Asia

Globally Connected: Victoria’s Southeast Asia Trade and Investment Strategy

Launched on 11 September 2018, Globally Connected: Victoria’s Southeast Asia Trade and Investment Strategy identifies pathways for trade and export into Southeast Asia’s fast-growing markets.

The Strategy aims to grow bilateral ties, promote Victoria and identify opportunities in the region in education, tourism, agriculture, infrastructure and professional services, ICT and technology, and the health and medical technology sectors. These sectors offer the most prospective opportunities in the region and are well-aligned with Victoria’s industry strengths and capabilities.

Discover how your business can export to Southeast Asia

  • The Victorian Government Trade and Investment (VGTI) offices located in Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur provide tailored market intelligence, local insights and guidance for your export business. Our VGTI offices can also connect you with overseas buyers and industry partners in the Southeast Asia region.
  • We're helping exporters tap into food export opportunities in Southeast Asia by supporting a range of activities including:    
    • the award-winning Now! In Season horticulture promotion
    • market research into new fruit varieties
    • grass-fed beef promotions
    • the Dairy Scholarships Program.
  • Asialink Business' Country Starter Packs provides a comprehensive guide to conducting business in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Explore an overview of the region and key trends by reading the "Why ASEAN and Why Now?" report.
  • The Victorian Government provides support through a range of grants, vouchers and assistance programs.
  • The International Chamber House (ICH) in Melbourne's city centre is a business networking hub for international bilateral chambers and business associations. ICH provides its members with access to meeting rooms, including video-conferencing, flexible workspaces, and a function space for international business development events.
  • Opportunities exist for Victorian businesses to bid for contracts across a wide range of sectors and markets with the World Bank and Asia Development Bank. Providing financial support to low and middle-income countries for projects focused on development and change, World Bank's contract award decisions are based on criteria other than lowest price, such as quality and sustainability
  • Visit our regional insights page to read seasonal updates from our Regional Specialists