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Spotlight on ASEAN Consumer Market Opportunities

HKTDC Export Index for First Quarter Rebounds Sharply

Hong Kong, Mar 17, 2014 - (ACN Newswire) - The Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) announced today that its Export Index for the first quarter of 2014 had rebounded sharply from the previous quarter, climbing to 48.1. Despite the rebound, however, HKTDC Director of Research Nicholas Kwan pointed out that the index was still below the watershed of 50, indicating that export sentiment for the immediate future remained slightly pessimistic.

Machinery performed best among the industry sub-indices, rebounding from 39.9 in the previous quarter to 52.1. The indices of other industries, including electronics, clothing, toys, jewellery and timepieces, also rose. In individual markets, the indices for Japan and the Chinese mainland climbed back to the above-50 level, both registering 51.1. The indices for the United States and the European Union increased to 48.9 and 48.1 respectively.

ASEAN Export Promise

The data, according to Daniel Poon, the HKTDC's Principal Economist (Global Research), revealed good prospects for Asia's export markets. In addition to the mainland and Japan, he noted that the markets of ASEAN warrant more attention from Hong Kong companies. This year, in a bid to strengthen economic and trading ties with ASEAN, the Hong Kong Government will begin negotiations for an ASEAN-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement.

Representatives from the HKTDC's Research Department recently visited two ASEAN countries, Indonesia and Malaysia, to gain an understanding of the situation on local economic development and business prospects for Hong Kong companies. The Asian Development Bank predicts that ASEAN's GDP will grow 5.3 per cent, and for good reason, according to Mr Poon.

Opportunities Vary

"Estimated at 150 million, ASEAN's middle-class constitutes a quarter of the population and is still growing. Its middle class will be a driving force in the development of consumer markets and organised retail channels," said Mr Poon. He added, however, that economic levels within ASEAN varied widely, with per capita income ranging from Myanmar's US$900 to Singapore's over US$50,000.

"In considering ASEAN market opportunities, Hong Kong companies should look carefully at the countries' varying economic strengths and the consumer market environment in each," said Mr Poon.

Biggest Market

Indonesia boasts Southeast Asia's biggest economy and its largest population. It also features an expanding middle-income class and a young population, together with increasing domestic consumption.

Indonesian Consumer Spending

The HKTDC's Dickson Ho, Principal Economist (Asian and Emerging Markets), pointed out that Indonesian consumer spending on non-food items has been fast expanding in recent years. "Particularly for such non-essential items as home appliances, jewellery and timepieces, the rates of spending growth are much higher than ASEAN averages," he said. Mr Ho believes that Hong Kong's well-designed products and excellent services are a natural fit with Indonesia's mid-to-high income class and its booming retail industry.

The development of shopping malls in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, offers considerable opportunity for Hong Kong companies, according to Mr Ho. Hong Kong retailers and brand owners should cooperate with local distributors, particularly those with experience in introducing international brands, he added.

Malaysian Chinese

Malaysia's per capita GDP is more than US$10,000, the third-highest in ASEAN. As in Indonesia, the rise of Malaysia's middle class has expanded the country's domestic retail market. Demand is strongest for mid-to-upmarket products, including clothing, gifts, jewellery and timepieces, as well as electronics and personal-care products.

Capital Opportunity

"One quarter of Malaysia is Chinese, but in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, the Chinese account for three-quarters of the population," said Mr Ho. The average income of Malaysian Chinese families is higher than that of Malaysian families and Indian families - by 43 per cent and 22 per cent, respectively, he added.

Mr Ho recommended that Hong Kong companies target Chinese consumers in Malaysia. "They can consider either mid-to-upmarket jewellery and timepieces or clothing as a starting point, and they can concentrate their resources on Kuala Lumpur and Penang."

Related Video: http://youtu.be/C8vSxZbNttc


A statutory body established in 1966, the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) is the international marketing arm for Hong Kong-based traders, manufacturers and service providers. With more than 40 global offices, including 13 on the Chinese mainland, the HKTDC promotes Hong Kong as a platform for doing business with China and throughout Asia. The HKTDC also organises trade fairs and business missions to connect companies with opportunities in Hong Kong and on the mainland, while providing information via trade publications, research reports and online. For more information, please visit: www.hktdc.com. Follow us on Google+, Twitter @hktdc, LinkedIn.

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Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/hktdc
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Source: HKTDC

Corporate Communication Department
Joe Kainz
Tel: +852 2584 4216
Email: [email protected]

Copyright 2014 ACN Newswire. All rights reserved.

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