U.S. companies in SE Asia say corruption, protectionism hurt business in region: survey

SINGAPORE (AP): American companies in Southeast Asia say corruption is a "major impediment" to doing business in the region, except in Singapore, according to a survey of U.S. businesses released Friday.

But the survey of senior executives in American companies in six Southeast Asian countries also showed U.S. businesses were confident of growth in the region, a statement from the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore said.

The companies surveyed were in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, the statement said.

"Other than in Singapore, corruption continues to be identified as the major impediment to doing business in the region and is a source of high dissatisfaction for our members,"said AmCham Singapore Executive Director Dom LaVigne.

"This, combined with concerns about the lack of predictability and stability in government regulations in several countries, has had a significant effect on U.S. investment decisions and is a vital competitiveness issue which ASEAN must seriously address," he said.

The American business group's outlook for the region was positive, however, with 62 percent of companies saying they believed the Southeast Asian market will be more important to their global revenues in the next two years, the survey showed.This is due to economic recovery, infrastructure improvements, and limited growth opportunities elsewhere, it said.

Other challenges facing American businesses in the region were varied. In Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam, a lack of infrastructure was a problem while in Singapore, companies cited concerns about rising housing prices and office lease costs. (**)
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