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Foreign direct investment

Trade and Investment in Southeast Asia

Published 11 April 2023

For decades, the rapid growth of Southeast Asia’s economies has attracted admiration. Today, the world’s fifth largest economy continues to invite foreign investment and eager trading partners. This Hinrich Foundation series on Trade and Investment in Southeast Asia examines the dynamics underpinning economic growth – and asks critical questions about the region’s future.

According to ASEAN, the US was the largest source of FDI inward flows in 2020, accounting for US$34.7 billion or 25.3% of the total FDI inflow into ASEAN states. Meanwhile, intra-ASEAN FDI was recorded at US$23.3 billion, constituting only 17.0% of total ASEAN FDI inflow. Other major sources of FDI to ASEAN were Hongkong-China, the EU, and Japan, with amounts of US$12.0 billion, US$10.5 billion, and US$8.5 billion, respectively.

Data source: ASEAN Statistics Division (ASEANstats)

Intra-ASEAN inward FDI experienced an overall increase of 3.5% from US$22.0 billion in 2019 to US$22.8 billion in 2020. Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand each saw over 40% of intra-ASEAN FDI as a share of their total FDI inflows, with Vietnam close behind at 39.7%. The remaining economies of Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, the Philippines, and Singapore saw smaller shares of intra-ASEAN FDI compared to external sources of FDI.

Data source: ASEAN Statistics Division (ASEANstats)

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