Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has just celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. This organisation comprises ten countries in Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia). Its aim is to promote cooperation among, and development of, its member countries, while respecting the political and cultural autonomy of each one.
With 639 million inhabitants, Asean is the third most populated area in the world, after China and India. More than half of the population is under thirty and 49% live in urban areas.
Asean is also the third most active economy in Asia, after China and Japan, and seventh in the world. It is the region which saw the world’s strongest economic growth between 2014 and 2018 (average 5%). In 2017, GDP stood at €2,200 billion.
The launch of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015 has clearly contributed to this vitality. If we include the economic partnership agreement between Asean and six other countries (China, Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand), Asean is one of the leading free-trade areas in the world today.
Flourishing trade between France and Asean
The European Union is Asean’s third trading partner after China and Japan. Asean is also the third trading partner of the European Union, after China and the United states. In 2016, it represented 7.1% of European imports and 4.9% exports. The European Union has already signed free-trade agreements with Singapore and Vietnam and identical projects are underway with Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
The Asean zone is France’s second customer in Asia and its fourth in the world, outside the European Union. Trade between France and Asean is growing, with very specific sectors (see inset below). French exports rose by 11% in 2016 to reach €14.7 billion, including €6.1 billion from the aerospace sector. French imports from Asean have also increased. The balance of trade is in Asean’s favour, but France’s deficit is falling: 1,500 French companies are present in Asean nations. With 600,000 visitors in 2017, France is the leading tourist destination for this region. The trade flows between France and the ASEAN area lend themselves to attracting attendees from this region to French tradeshows.