Asia’s ASEAN region has set up a Free Trade Zone with China, which has been the world largest manufacturer for at least 3,000 of the last 4,000 years.

In 1850, China represented 33% of world GDP compared to Britain’s 32%, and just 2% for the embryonic USA.

In the intervening century, trade with the West contracted. However, in 1979 the Chinese government introduced economic reforms and began opening China to the outside world.

Since then China has enjoyed 30 years of 6-14% annual GDP growth, averaging 9% growth per year over the period.

On January 1st this year, China and the 10 South East Asian members of ASEAN joined together to scrap tariffs and create a Free Trade Area spanning more than 1.9 billion people, hundreds of languages, 11 countries and three time zones.

The combined GDP for the new free trade zone is US$5.8 trillion, or 10% of Global GDP (2008 figures).

With Europe and the US in recession, this new economic zone will quickly rival the European Economic Area (EEA) and the countries included in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Since the financial crisis, demand for goods has declined from Europe and the United States,” said Dr. Tang Min, Deputy Secretary General of the China Development Research Foundation, based in Beijing.

If the zone grows to include Japan, Korea or even Australia, it could be a similar size to the North American marketChina’s goal is to quadruple GDP in 20 years, which implies an average 7.3% annual growth“, he added.

This new trade zone represents a significant source of new business for UK manufacturers and service companies in all sectors, from Software to Soft Drinks, Financial Services to Franchising, Education to Environment and Construction to Cosmetics.

In Financial Services, for example, Singapore has this year been ranked by the World Economic Forum above Hong Kong as the world’s 4th most important financial centre, up from 10th position in 2007.

From Indonesia to Malaysia and from China to Thailand, the whole region is rapidly industrializing, globalizing, urbanizing and consumerizing, driven by a fast growing, young middle class who have known nothing but rising expectations and upward mobility.

In Indonesia, for example, the middle class is estimated to have grown from just under 35m people to over 45m people between 2008 and 2010, as is the huge increase in personal disposable income that accompanies such growth.

In fact, the size of the fast-growing middle class in Indonesia is now larger than the entire populations of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland and Portugal combined.

The most common problems faced by Western organizations seeking to enter Asian markets are:

  • Management culture and business methods
  • Navigating Local and Central Bureaucracy
  • Unclear Regulations and unpredictable Interpretation
  • Lack of Transparency
  • Contract Enforcement
  • Economic nationalism

Lava IP International Pte Ltd is a business development company based in Singapore, the country that leads the entire ASEAN-China Free Trade Area in terms of transparency and having a business-friendly environment.

In 2009, Transparency International ranked Singapore as the 3rd most transparent economy worldwide, after New Zealand and Denmark. The next closest territories and countries within the new Free Trade Zone are Hong Kong, in 12th place worldwide, and after that Brunei, in 39th place worldwide.

For easy and transparent access to this multi-trillion dollar Free Trade Zone, there are many reasons why many British SMEs and multinationals are seeing Singapore as the perfect entry point.

Lava IP International can help companies and organizations to successfully enter this new and fast growing trade zone by offering:

  • ASEAN-China Free Trade Area Business Development
  • ASEAN-China Market Entry Strategies
  • Country-Specific Services, Contacts & Insight
  • ASEAN-China Free Trade Area Business Matching & Lead Generation
  • Custom ASEAN-China B2B Market Research

A full list of Lava IP International’s services for government trade organizations, public companies and SMEs can be found at

Lava IP International covers markets globally from its Head Office in Singapore and through its network of international regional associates.

Lava IP International Pte. Ltd.

Registered Office: 33, Ubi Avenue 3, Vertex, #01-55, Singapore 408868

Company Registration Number: 200803238K

Tel: +65 9725 5229 (Singapore)

Tel: 07743 968 931 (UK)

Fax: +65 6742 4171

UK enquiries – please contact [email protected]