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Thai CEOs’ investment sentiment high, skills gaps remain an Asean concern: OBG survey

Apr 01. 2019
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By The Nation

The 2019 edition of the “Business Barometer: ASEAN CEO Survey”, carried out by Oxford Business Group (OBG), indicates that executives across the region remain largely upbeat about the economic outlook, although skills gaps risk preventing some Asean member states from reaching their full potential.

As part of its survey on the economy, the UK-based global research and consultancy firm asked more than 400 C-suite executives from across industries in Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Myanmar a wide-ranging series of questions on a face-to-face basis aimed at gauging business sentiment. 

Investor sentiment appears to be largely buoyant across the four participating countries, with 75 per cent of respondents saying their firm is likely or very likely to make a significant capital investment in the next 12 months. 

Confidence was highest amongst business leaders in Thailand (81 per cent) and lowest in Indonesia (72 per cent).

Results were more varied, however, on key domestic issues, such as the competitiveness of the local tax environment.

Just 38 per cent of chief executives surveyed told OBG they believed their tax framework to be competitive or very competitive, while 45 per cent described it as uncompetitive or very uncompetitive. 

Executives in the Philippines were the most critical, with less than one-quarter (23 per cent) of Manila-based respondents expressing a favourable opinion of their domestic tax environment.

Access to credit was another subject that drew mixed responses, with 39 per cent of interviewees across all four participating members of the Asean bloc describing it as easy or very easy, but a larger number (46 per cent) choosing the opposite answers. 

While business leaders in Thailand and the Philippines were largely favourable in their views, the overall result was skewed by responses from Myanmar, where more than four-fifths (81 per cent) of executives described accessing credit as difficult or very difficult.

With several Asean economies eyeing tech industries and advanced manufacturing as drivers of new growth, skills gaps are currently a key focus for CEOs in the region. 

Executives cited a range of skills as among those they felt to be in high demand across the workforce, led by leadership (33 per cent), engineering (18 per cent), and research and development (14 per cent).

The results are now available to view in full on OBG’s Editors’ Blog at:…/china-dominant-external-i

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