Australia’s outreach to SE Asia

Map of Asia Pacific Region

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FreightExchange, like many companies in Australia, is closely following ongoing discussions between Australia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In May, ASEAN and Australian trade representatives met in Jakarta to follow up on the March Special Summit between the two entities.

Australia and ASEAN are now in the fourth year of joint cooperation and recently concluded the initial general review of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA).

Often compared to a Southeast Asian version of the European Union, ASEAN, founded in 1967, is a collection of countries coming together to foster political and economic cooperation. Its constituent member states are:

  • Indonesia
  • Thailand
  • The Philippines
  • Malaysia
  • Singapore
  • Vietnam
  • Myanmar
  • Cambodia
  • Laos
  • Brunei

ASEAN is home to 629 million people and generates a GDP of $2.4 trillion, collectively the seventh largest economy in the world. It has been growing at an economic rate of around five percent annually in recent years, suggesting the world is witnessing the rise of a new economic powerhouse.

Free movement of goods and people between ASEAN member states is a key tenant of the organisation’s mission to improve living standards throughout Southeast Asia – meaning transport and logistics are very much in-focus for governments across the region.

We built our expansion to Southeast Asia on the premise that FreightDesk, our freight management platform, will contribute to the upgrade of transport and freight logistics operations in this region.

Multimodal transport is essential in this region, with the Philippines and Indonesia being archipelagos, made up of thousands of individual islands, while other states sit on peninsulas connected to Asia proper. That makes maritime trade an integral part of the logistics solution.

Dense jungles, hilly highlands and soaring mountain ranges dominate other parts of the region. That makes rail, air and highway movements indispensable in moving freight.

Consequently, governments in this region are investing heavily in infrastructure upgrades. Collectively, nations in ASEAN have more than $200 billion in infrastructure projects in the construction pipeline.

Shipping lanes and seaports are another vital part of the chain. Singapore’s facilities are already world class, yet other nations are scrambling to compete or complement the city state’s maritime operations.

Indonesia has opened the checkbook on infrastructure, building 19 deep sea ports capable of accommodating ships with a capacity of 5,000 or more TEUs. Similar projects are underway in Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand.

ASEAN members are not overlooking aviation. ASEAN’s joint investment plan calls for $34 billion in funding for air transport.

In addition, Malaysia and Singapore are jointly building a 350km high-speed rail line linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

FreightExchange is excited to be a part of Southeast Asia’s emergence on the world stage.

Cate Hull is the CEO of FreightExchange, a freight management company based in Sydney.