BOE Technology (BOE), a Beijing-based supplier of electronic displays for global smartphone makers, plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in new factories in Vietnam. BOE is following its biggest clients: Samsung keeps expanding in Vietnam where about half of its smartphones for global markets are already being produced. Similarly, Apple, another BOE client, is reported to be planning to make MacBooks in Thailand.
While China is still a global manufacturing powerhouse, a growing number of companies are eyeing Southeast Asia, and the 10-member ASEAN block (short for Association of Southeast Asian Nations), as they pursue a “China-plus-one” strategy to diversify their supply-chain risks by reshoring parts of their production.
A rising force
If viewed as a country, ASEAN would be the world’s third most populous state after India and China. And what sets the region apart from places like China and Japan, where populations have peaked, is that ASEAN is young and growing, with the economic dividend that brings. An enviable median age of 30 across the region compares with 39 in China, 49 in Japan, 38 in the US and 42 in Europe. ASEAN’s fast-rising middle class is boosting consumption, with GDP per capita in most countries in the region forecast to grow by 3 to 4 per cent annually through 2030.