“Our country is positioned to be the center of global business for the next 100 years,” said U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, Kirk Wagar, at a lunch with Foster School students and faculty on April 24th. He argues that 50% of the employees at U.S. businesses are global, and that the diversity in the U.S. has created and will sustain its tremendous success in business. At the lunch, the Ambassador shared his insights on global business, ASEAN, and Singapore.
He encouraged students around the table to consider studying abroad or working abroad in SE Asia. It is a vitally important region for business students to understand and engage with. Even comparing China and SE Asia, he argues that while China has a rising middle class, the demographics for business in SE Asia are much better. The population is younger, and ASEAN has also figured out that they either rise or sink together. Unlike Latin America, ASEAN understands the concept of shared economic prosperity. ASEAN is lowering its tariffs and pushing to become a more connected region. There is great opportunity for business in ASEAN with over 620 million people in the region – that is one million more people than in the EU.
Singapore sits in a unique position – India on one side and China on the other. It has the one of the largest port in the world, handling more than 30 million containers annually. Singapore is also incredibly multicultural, and it is home to more than 3600 U.S. businesses. A student asked why it is such an attractive location for foreign firms, and Ambassador Wagar responded that its business and regulatory environment is very friendly, it’s politically stable, English is widely spoken, and well, it is the only place in SE Asia where you can confidently drink tap water.