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Export to South East Asia

Successfully tap into new markets.

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  • About the market
  • Find current opportunities
  • Comply with tariffs, taxes and regulations

South East Asia

The 10 countries comprising the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are:

  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cambodia
  • Indonesia
  • Laos
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • the Philippines
  • Singapore
  • Thailand
  • Vietnam.

Together they have a combined population of approximately 608.8 million and a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$2.2 trillion. Rapid population growth and urbanisation across the region are driving significant export opportunities across many different industry sectors. Food, education services and infrastructure are common opportunity themes emerging from the region.

South East Asia is an important and growing market for Australian exports. Merchandise exports to the region were worth $26.7 billion in 2011-2012 , making Australia its ninth largest source of imports. Major exports included crude petroleum, gold, wheat and copper.

Australia exported $8.5 billion worth of services to the region in 2011-2012, with education and tourism services accounting for 56 per cent of this. Victoria engaged in $14.3 billion worth of two-way merchandise trade with ASEAN countries in 201-12. Victoria’s goods exports to South East Asia have grown 3 per cent over the last five years to $3.7 billion, of which 80 per cent went to the top four countries (Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia).

Victoria’s top goods exports to ASEAN include milk and cream, aluminium, wheat and beef.

Victoria’s services exports to ASEAN are also growing, with Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia in the top ten highest value tourist markets for Victoria.

The ASEAN food and beverage market has been growing rapidly over recent years and is a key strategic market for Victoria. The ASEAN region offers Victoria geographic proximity, a large growing population, and an increasing awareness of Victoria’s expertise and quality in food and beverage products.

Current opportunities

Australia and New Zealand have entered a free trade agreement with ASEAN which, to date, is the largest free trade agreement that Australia has ever signed. AANZFTA binds current low tariffs and over time, eliminates tariffs on between 90 and 100 per cent of tariff lines, covering 96 per cent of current Australian exports to the region. Victoria is a leading provider of on-shore and off-shore education services to the region. Our people-to-people links are also strong, with high-levels of tourism and travel between Australia and ASEAN countries and dynamic cultural relations.

The GFC slowed down the world economy and impacted on a range of infrastructure projects. Before the crisis, the Asian Development Bank Institute stated that ASEAN countries would require infrastructure investments amounting to A$600 billion during 2006–2015, with an average investment of A$60 billion+ per year. Infrastructure investment will continue to play a major role and have a major impact on ongoing economic growth across ASEAN. Specific sector opportunities include those listed below.

Financial services

Funds management, Islamic finance and banking services. Key markets include Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia.


Components, research and development (technical collaborations), and engineering and design services. Key markets include Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore.

Food and beverage

Dairy nutriceuticals, meat and meat processing (including halal), and tradeable services. Key markets inlcude Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam.

International education

Vocational education and training, ELICOS, and higher education Key markets include Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.


E-Learning, wireless and broadband technology, mobile software and applications, and telecommunication. Key markets include Malaysia and Singapore.

Infrastructure and services

Infrastructure, building and construction, urbanisation, corporate capacity building (business services), transport and logistics services, water technology, and oil and gas industry (technology supply and services). Key markets include Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Business with a diverse mix of cultures

South East Asia encompasses a diverse mix of cultures and cannot be approached using a one-size-fits-all approach. Countries should be considered individually when doing business with the region.

Negotiating is an intrinsic part of Asian culture and is always a feature of business. Be prepared, and seek advice if unsure, when developing your pricing strategy.

Taxes and regulations

AANZFTA provides for the progressive reduction or, for most products, elimination of tariffs facing Australian goods exports to ASEAN countries over a transition period, and the elimination of all Australian tariffs on imports from AANZFTA parties. This affects all goods and services imports, exports and investments between Australia, New Zealand and the ten ASEAN countries. It is recommended that Victorian companies familiarise themselves with how their products and services are impacted by the FTA and what benefits and responsibilities are required from them when doing business in the region.

The Victorian Government supports local business to engage with ASEAN markets through its Trade Mission program.The Victorian Government Business Offices (VGBOs) in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta provide in-market intelligence and support to Victorian companies looking to do business throughout Malaysia and South East Asia.