There are a number of questions that are often asked - or at least should be asked! - about doing business in Southeast Asia. We present a selection of the most commonly asked questions here, but if you want to find out more, do get in touch and contact us.
Please note that this section is included for information only and cannot be a substitute for a personal consultation. The information is drawn from reputable sources and we believe it to be accurate at the time of publication, but we cannot be responsible for any errors or omissions, or for any decisions that you may make based on this material. That said...
Q: What is "Southeast Asia"?
A: It is a region comprising the countries that are geographically south of China, east of India, west of New Guinea and north of Australia, and is almost, but not quite, the same as the ten ASEAN full member states. This white paper explains more...
Q: What help is available with Trade Finance?
A: Do talk to your bank about export finance, guarantees, and insurance if you are looking to export from the UK. It is also worth taking a look at what the UK government can do to help through UK Export Finance at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-export-finance.
Q: How do we protect our intellectual property?
A: This is a complex subject and the legal framework for protecting copyright, patents, designs, logos, trademarks, etc., can vary significantly from country to country. But in all cases the advice is to act early to stake your claim for what you want protected. A good starting point for information and guidance is the UK Intellectual Property Office at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office.
Q: Is bribery and corruption an issue?
A: These practices arise in some countries and business sectors more than others, but usually they won't be an issue at all. If you are faced with it directly, seek professional advice. The UK government has recently enacted the Bribery Act which might well have a bearing too. More information is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ministry-of-justice.
Q: What educational and cultural links exist between the UK and Southeast Asia?
A: The UK and Southeast Asia enjoy a rich set of educational and cultural ties maintained through both public and private bodies, and individual connections. A good place to start is at the British Council, which maintains a direct presence in the majority of countries in Southeast Asia. Take a look at http://www.britishcouncil.org.
Q: Are there any language or other cultural barriers?
A: English is widely taught in schools and universities and is a common denominator as a language of business. It is also widely spoken as a second language, especially in towns and cities. In some countries in the region it is an official national language, and a medium of instruction in schools and universities.
Local language skills might be required in formal communication with government bodies and other public institutions, and it might then be necessary to engage professional translation or interpretation services.
If you are not familiar with Southeast Asia, take care to learn its social and business customs and practices, which vary widely across this diverse region. It will help to avoid embarrassment, and the effort will be greatly appreciated.
Q: How well developed are telecommunications services?
A: Tens of millions of people in Southeast Asia are avid users of social media. Mobile telephones are found everywhere, and it is easy and inexpensive to purchase pre-paid SIM cards with a local number to cater for all your needs. Internet speeds are generally fast or superfast, especially in towns and cities. Satellite TV is widespread, and there is no escape from the Premier League. Telco and internet services are widely available in public areas, and in offices and hotels.