This course covers ASIA-ASEAN BUSINESS ECOSYSTEM. In 2017, the 10 countries forming ASEAN had a total GDP of over US$2.5 trillion which just surpassed that of U.K. and make ASEAN the 5th largest economic grouping in the world today. ASEAN in total has 622 million in population, more than any country in the world except China and India. Recognizing its human ecosystem as a power-house of synergistic opportunities, the ASEAN or South-East Asian neighboring countries have had a long 50 years of history working together, sometimes with minor conflicts but eventual reconciliation, to form a productive economic community, regional-security co-operation, and consensus-based political stand toward larger dominant super-powers. From the beginning of the ASEAN free trade area in 1993, intra-ASEAN trade had grown from 19% to 25% today. Across the grouping, more than 90 percent of traded goods carry zero tariffs. The grouping had also prioritized sectors such as electronics, automotive products, rubber-based products, textiles and apparels, agro-based products, and tourism for integration.
The role of ASEAN in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and at the South-East of Asia cannot be disentangled from the much expanded political, economic, and cultural influence of bigger Asia including China, India, Japan, and Korea especially since the PRC economic reform and orientation toward market economy started by Deng Xiaoping in December 1978. For 3 decades after that till 2008, China’s economic growth has been double-digit. In early 2013 President Xi Jinping uncovered the One-Belt One-Road strategic initiative for the refreshed pace of China’s economic development to connect with central Asia and Europe and to also connect with the seaports of South East Asia, South Asia and Africa. The visionary goal is to build a network of sea routes, overland roadways, railways, oil and natural gas pipelines and other infrastructure projects that will connect China to Central Asia, Europe, Russia, and most of India, South East Asia, and as far as Africa. Thus understanding of ASEAN must not only dwell into the complexities of the grouping dynamics and socio-cultural and economic developmental history, but also its nexus and political alliance or non-alliance with the big economies in Asia such as China, Japan, and India.
This course will provide a historical, socio-cultural, and economic perspective of ASEAN and its role and value within greater Asia. It will also examine Singapore’s role within ASEAN as the smallest but most developed service economy and with the highest per capita GDP. The various economies of countries in the groupings will be concisely reviewed such as economic developments in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia, which robust growth in recent years and growth in entrepreneurial start-ups and a rising middle class, rising Malaysian merchandize exports to U.S., and strong information technology and business-process outsourcing in Philippines. Vietnam is also transforming from textile and light industries into higher-value add manufacturing.
The course contains an overseas mission study to Thailand, visiting companies around Bangkok, so the second part of the course focuses on the Thai economy and its business industries and ecosystem. In recent years the Thai government attempted to boost its domestic economic by infrastructural investments of up to US45 b in 2018. The economy faces a strong external demand for its exports, has a large current account surplus, but faces a fragile domestic economy with weak demand. Job employment growth rate is also sluggish. Its strength lies in its manufacturing sector with a strong presence in automobile manufacturing and parts production. One downside risk with recent Thailand has been its embroilment in domestic politics which created some levels of uncertainties. Growth is still expected at about 3.5% in 2018.
By the end of this course, students will be able to:
- Understand the ASEAN grouping and their economic and socio-political diversity
- Understand the role of ASEAN in Asia and ASEAN’s relationship to the Major countries
- Understanding the political economic development of ASEAN and its strengths and weaknesses
- Analyze the business ecosystem of Thailand and its industry structures
- Evaluate some key problems faced by companies in various sectors e.g. SMEs , healthcare business, water projects, and IT issues
- Work in small teams to discuss and collaborate in learning and solving some of the company problems
This course qualifies for 1 CU and comprises 3 parts.
Part 1 - Consists of 6 x 3 hour classroom lectures and 2 blended learning self-paced lessons (5 March to 11 May 2018, excepting the 2 exam weeks)
Part 2 - Consists of a 2-week visit to Bangkok, Thailand, residence at Mahidol University campus hostel with interactions with Mahidol students. This overseas study mission is from 13 May 2018 (depart Singapore) to 26 May 2018 (return to Singapore). There will be visits to 4 up to 6 companies in various industry sectors e.g.. SMEs, healthcare business, water projects, and IT areas. The group project component will be focused on company projects or problems in the companies that will be visited. Students of the class will be divided into interdisciplinary groups of 4 to 5.
Part 3 - Consist of 1 week on the week after return from overseas. The class will be submission of individual journal for marking as well as group project solution report and presentations. This is the week of 28 May 2018 to 2 June 2018.
COSTS OF TRIP
The 2 weeks visit to Bangkok and companies in Bangkok area will cost each student a total of estimated $1,300. This covers budget return airfare, local accommodation at Mahidol hostel (sharing basis), local organised group transport to visit 4 to 6 companies and a cultural event, and insurance. Students are expected to pay this amount but substantial subsidies will be provided for students who have financial challenges.