Trade volume between Qatar and Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) countries stood at $9bn in 2020, according to figures provided by the Asean Committee in Doha (ACD).
Bilateral trade between Asean member states and Qatar in 2020 are as follows: Singapore ($4.3bn), Thailand ($2.32bn), Indonesia ($895mn), Vietnam ($500mn), Malaysia ($480mn), the Philippines ($233mn), and Brunei ($48mn), the ACD said in a statement to Gulf Times yesterday.
The ACD said Qatar is a “key investor in Asean,” with investments in the energy, including alternative energy, financial, real estate, telecommunications, agribusiness, hospitality, and medical sectors.
Prominent Qatari companies, such as Ooredoo, Nebras Power, and QNB Group have established a presence in Indonesia. CDC Qatar is leading a seaport project worth $300mn in the Quang Ninh province of Vietnam.
Qatari investments into Singapore are estimated at around “$1.5bn,” many of which are in the financial, insurance, and real estate sectors. Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) recently established a wholly-owned advisory subsidiary in Singapore to source investment opportunities in Asia.
“The 10 countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations enjoy good relations with Qatar, underpinned by cooperation spanning the political, economic, and cultural sectors. Both sides also have excellent people-to-people ties. Around 300,000 Southeast Asian nationals have made Qatar their second home.
“As a testament to this strong and growing relationship, Asean welcomes Qatar’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Co-operation, which provides a platform to expand co-operation between Asean and Qatar in areas of mutual interest,” the statement said.
It also said, “Economic co-operation remains the cornerstone of Asean-Qatar ties. Within the Gulf, Qatar is an important trade and investment partner for the Asean member states, namely, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.”
The ACD noted that notwithstanding the excellent co-operation, “there is scope for Asean and Qatar to do more together.” With the third-largest population in the world (650mn people) and a combined GDP of around $3tn, the ACD said Asean presents “a wealth of untapped opportunities.”
“The 10 Asean member states are at the centre of a dynamic and fast-developing Asia-Pacific region. The Asean Economic Community, inaugurated in 2016, has paved the way for the bloc to become a competitive, integrated single market, with free flow of goods, services, labour, and investments across the 10 countries.
“Despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Asean economy is expected to rebound to 5% growth annually, and forecast to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030,” the ACD stressed.
The ACD said there are three main driving forces of Asean’s growth. The first is the favourable demographics. According to the ACD, Asean “is young, and filled with potential.” Over 380mn people in Asean are under the age of 35.
The second is rising income levels: Nearly two-thirds of the Asean population is expected to be middle class by 2030, while the third is the rapid adoption of digitalisation. Asean is the world’s fastest-growing Internet market, and its digital economy is projected to exceed “$300bn” by 2025, ACD stated.
“As an economic bloc, Asean has taken tremendous leaps in recent years. On top of its free trade agreements with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea, Asean is part of the historic Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Once it comes into force, the RCEP will be the largest Free Trade Agreement in the world, covering roughly 30 percent of global GDP and population. It is expected to add $186bn to the global economy.
“Amidst this promising backdrop, there is much potential for Asean-Qatar relations to grow stronger. Despite being a small state, Qatar has emerged as a significant political and economic player in the region. Asean welcomes a closer partnership with Qatar,” the ACD also said.