by Nils Wolters, Investment Officer, MIDA Frankfurt |
For its third edition, the renowned business seminar has been moved from Frankfurt to Düsseldorf.
On 10 July 2018, the four investment promotion agencies of the ASEAN member countries Malaysia (MIDA), Thailand (BOI), Singapore (EDB) and Philippines (DTI) held the third ASEAN Investment Forum in Germany. Since its inception in 2016, this annual business seminar has become increasingly renowned among the German business community. After carrying out the event in Frankfurt in 2016 and 2017, the organisers decided to move the seminar to a different city to attract a new audience. Several major cities were in discussion, but in the end the four agencies have chosen the economic hub of Düsseldorf in the heart of Northrhine-Westphalia, home to countless German companies, both global players and from the Mittelstand. Co-organisers of the ASEAN Investment Forum in Düsseldorf were Ernst & Young (EY), IHK Düsseldorf (Chamber of Commerce and Industry) and the OAV (German Asia-Pacific Business Association).
The event was attended by roughly 100 business people, whereby most of the participants came from the regional business community of Northrhine-Westphalia. After the welcoming remarks of the Deputy Director of IHK Düsseldorf, Dr. Gerhard Eschenbaum, Prof. Dr. Andreas Stoffers, a renowned ASEAN business expert from a private University in Munich, briefed the audience on current trends and developments in ASEAN. Among the most significant developments he identified were a global economic power shift from the western world to Asia-Pacific, the emergence of the fourth industrial revolution (so-called industry 4.0) and the further increase of global trade through cost effective logistics (via mega container ships), more Free Trade Agreements and a growing middle class in Asia. Prof. Stoffers mentioned the opportunities for ASEAN in regard to this trend, highlighting the strategic geographical location (referring back to the global power shift to Asia-Pacific) of ASEAN to the audience.
The presentation of Prof. Stoffers was followed by a panel discussion with the four regional directors of the investment agencies (MIDA Frankfurt, BOI Thailand Frankfurt, EDB Singapore Frankfurt and DTI Philippines Berlin). Each panelist held a short presentation highlighting the individual strengths and opportunities of their respective country. After the presentations, the audience had the opportunity to ask questions to the panelists. The following discussion revolved around investment policies, and incentive schemes.
After a short coffee break, the event continued with a presentation of different business models for German investors in ASEAN. This in-depth presentation was held by a senior manager of EY and highlighted the differences of doing business in ASEAN compared to Europe (e.g. complex regulatory and tax environment, dynamic trade environment, diverse cultures and rapid changes in consumer needs and markets).
The last programme point, as in the two previous editions of the ASEAN Investment Forum, was a panel with four speakers of German companies that have invested in the respective ASEAN countries to share their first-hand experiences with the audience. Invited by MIDA Frankfurt, Mr. Jörg Schieferdecker, the CEO of Heimann Sensor GmbH, spoke about his experiences in Malaysia. Heimann Sensor can be classified as a typical German SME (Mittelstand), meaning it is a rather small company which is highly innovative and one of the market leaders in its niche industry. In the case of Heimann Sensor, the company produces one of the smallest thermal sensors in the world. The company has two separate operations in Johor, employing 120 people, all of which are Malaysians. When asked why the company chose Malaysia as their business location in Asia-Pacific, Mr. Schieferdecker highlighted the English language skills of the Malaysian population, the strategic location of Johor (access to ports, airports, proximity to Singapore), the ease of doing business and the support of the authorities like MIDA.
The event was concluded with a buffet lunch, where the participants had the opportunity to do networking and ask some more questions to the attending experts.