EU Flag
Centre for European Studies
Bangkok, Thailand


The European Economic Presence in Sout-East Asia: Empirical Observations and Analysis
The Twin Tower Hotel on 16-17 November 2006

The Research Institute on Contemporary South-East Asia (IRASEC) and the Centre for European Studies organised "The European Economic Presence in Sout-East Asia: Empirical Observations and Analysis" at The Twin Tower Hotel on 16-17 November 2006.

Introduction to the Topic

Is Europe really under-represented in South-East Asia (especially in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand) when compared to the United States and Japan? For a long time, this idea has been considered as a characteristic feature of South-East Asia's economic reality. During the Cold War, the United States began to settle in ASEAN. Furthermore, Japanese companies also invested heavily since the eighties. However, recent figures show that European enterprises have been investing on a massive scale in this region from the mid-nineties. Europe was also the main investor in South-East Asia between 1995 and 2003, with 35% of the total incoming flows in the area.

Generally speaking, for several years, the phenomenon of foreign direct investment (FDI) has encouraged a wide area of economic research both in theoretical and empirical aspects. Meanwhile, the economic literature is essentially based on few case studies or on macroeconomic flows analysis. It seems that just basing ourselves on these studies is not sufficient to answer properly to the question of European economic presence (which firms have penetrated a certain country, the European companies’ activities, their background and origin, how they integrate into the territory’s economy…). Through this conference, the IRASEC and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok wish to fill the gaps and take stock of the situation on focusing especially on the European economic presence in South-East Asia.

This conference’s organisation falls within the framework of research launched since October 2005 by IRASEC on Europe's economic presence in South-East Asia. Based on the fact that very few studies are available pertaining to this presence, the objective of this research was to improve, qualitatively and quantitatively, our knowledge on Europe's economic presence in the ten ASEAN countries.


Quantitatively speaking, the goal is to "take stock of" the number of European companies in South-East Asia. It does not mean giving the exhaustive and precise list of all the European firms established in the region but to have an overall picture (of the presence of these firms). The main issues we wish to raise are:

  • Is it possible to obtain and put forward a relatively accurate number concerning the European companies (subsidiaries, joint ventures, representative offices…) in each of the ten ASEAN countries?
  • What is Europe's position in relation to its main competitors – the United States, Japan and perhaps other Asian countries? And what are the main European countries present in the region?
  • What are the economic activities of these firms in the different countries?
  • Where are these companies mainly located in each of the region’s States?

Beyond these aspects pertaining to each ASEAN country, various comparative aspects will be put forward, either about Europe's presence in other Asian countries (North-East Asia, South Asia) or the presence of other countries in South-East Asia (Japan, United-States, China).

Qualitatively speaking, explanations should be provided regarding the European economic presence in South-East Asia.

  • What were the main motives of the European MNCs when they decided to establish in the region?
  • What were the factors that favoured or on the contrary hindered this presence? What were the main difficulties encountered by the European companies in their activity in Southeast Asia?
  • How do these entities function in the different host countries (local partnerships, ties with the local productive fabric, technology transfers, human resources management …)?
  • What are the mechanisms of co-operation developed between the ASEAN and Europe?
  • How does the rising power of China modify the regional situation?

For two days the conference, co-organised by the IRASEC and the Centre of European Studies of Chulalongkorn University, will bring together participants coming from several European and ASEAN countries. Chinese and Japanese participants are also expected. Most of the guests are from academic circles but importance is given to representatives from national and international administrations and the private sector. As the topic of the conference is the European economic presence in Southeast Asia, it seems to be very useful and important to listen to people from business circles. We hope that this conference will help confirm and improve the results that will be published in the Atlas on European economic presence.


List of speakers

  • Pr. Tham Siew Yean, Professor/Deputy Director, Institute of Malaysian and International Studies (IKMAS), National University of Malaysia, Selengor, MALAYSIA
  • Dr. Wong Tai-chee, Associate Professor, Humanities and Social Studies Education, National Institute of Education, National University of Singapore, SINGAPORE
  • Dr. Charit Tingsabadh, Director, Centre for European Studies, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, THAILAND
  • M. Anda Djoehana, Consultant, Paris, FRANCE
  • Dr. Joseph Sedfrey Santiago, Assistant Professor, John Gokongwei School of Management, Marketing & Law Department, Atheneo, Metro Manila, PHILIPPINES
  • Dr. Gulshan Sachdeva, Director, Europe Area Studies Programme & Associate Professor, Centre for European Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, INDIA
  • Pr. Zhu Zhenming, Professor/Deputy Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, CHINA
  • Dr. Masami Ishida, Director in Charge of International Exchange, IDE/JETRO, Chiba, JAPAN
  • Dr. Guy Faure, Director of the IRASEC, Bangkok, THAILAND
  • Dr. David Hoyrup, Research Fellow, IRASEC, Bangkok, THAILAND
  • Dr. Evelyn Dourille-Feer, Researcher, CEPII, Paris, FRANCE
  • M. Yanick Moureix, Consultant, Ho-Chi-Minh City, VIET-NAM
  • M. François Gerles, Research Fellow, IRASEC, Bangkok, THAILAND
  • M. Jean-Jacques Bouflet, Minister Counsellor, European Delegation, Bangkok, THAILAND
  • Dr. Erwan Ramedhan, Professor, Atma Jaya University, Jakarta, INDONESIA


| ©2006 Centre for European Studies, Bangkok, Thailand,,