In recent years, Southeast Asia has begun attracting U.S. private equity investors and strategic buyers for the same reasons that China did two decades ago: low-cost manufacturing facilities, inexpensive labor and a growing population of consumers. Now that China’s economy is faltering, the 10 countries that are members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (also known as Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – are poised to benefit.
The ASEAN countries represent a huge market. Taken together, they have a population of about 625 million people, skewed heavily toward youth, with 65 percent of the people under 35. Their combined economies make Southeast Asia one of the fastest growing regions in the world, with five of the countries ranked among the top 25 in the world as measured by gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Singapore’s GDP per capita ranks among the top 10 in the world, higher than the U.S., and Indonesia’s GDP also ranks in the top 10.