KUALA LUMPUR (June 21, 2013): German businesses turned less optimistic on the economic outlook in Asean, according to an Asean Business Climate Survey 2013 by the Asean Chamber Network.

“The results from the survey showed that business confidence in the region has come down a little bit. It is connected to the world economy. Overall, I see less confidence in worldwide economic development,” Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCCI) executive director Alexander Stedtfeld told a news conference to announce the findings of the survey here yesterday.

“There are many reasons (for this) such as political, financial and the European sovereign debt crisis.”

Stedtfeld said the dominating issues influencing the engagement of companies in Asean remain the availability of skilled labour and the absence of corruption.

“There are a few factors that remained significantly important like the availability of skilled labours. But it is not a problem just facing Malaysia or Asean but a global one, including Germany. It is a challenge to find qualified workers,” he added.

Some 250 respondents participated in the survey conducted by the five German chambers of commerce and industry in Asean, which formed the Asean Chamber Network in 2012.

Stedtfeld said the survey questions focused on business confidence, growth expectations, investments and company indicators comparing the current situation with the past year and forecasts for the year ahead.

The respondents were mainly represented the services, machinery and engineering, electrical equipment, transport and automotive as well as the chemical sector.

Notwithstanding the slight dip in confidence seen from the results of the survey, he said Asean is currently the most dynamic economic region in the world.

He said the ongoing integration leading up to the Asean Economic Community in 2015 and beyond will further spur the development, a development that creates many opportunities for German business, especially also the small and medium enterprise sector.

Stedtfeld said that Asean as a single market would be the ninth largest economy with its population of 600 million and a combined gross domestic product of US$2.4 trillion.

He said MGCCI is optimistic of seeing trade between Malaysia and German grow by at least 10% this year from 10.4 billion euro (RM44.05 billion) in 2012.

“We saw a dip in 2009 but after that, trade (between Malaysia and German) showed signs of a growing trend. We expect this trend to continue,” he said. –Premalatha Jayaraman,  sunbiz@thesundaily.com