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Tech Beyond the West: Tapping Into Opportunities in Southeast Asia

Industry Insights

By NZTE and Asia Market Entry

1 May 2023

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Southeast Asia is a strategically located region with high-growth economies, a favourable business environment, and an appetite for quality tech solutions that drive environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals. 

Here are three key reasons to look beyond the West to the dynamic region of Southeast Asia for market expansion.

1. Large tech market opportunities with high-growth economies.

One of the top reasons to consider Singapore and its neighbours as a destination for business expansion is their rapidly accelerating economies. According to a report by the World Bank, Southeast Asia has been the fastest-growing region in the world for the past decade, with an average annual growth rate of 5.3%.

With a population of over 660 million and a burgeoning middle class, the commercial potential in market size is being fuelled by a young and digitally savvy population driving demand for technology and innovation. This represents a huge opportunity for companies who can serve the region's appetite for digitalization.


2. Strategic location and favourable tech business environments.

Many nations in Southeast Asia – especially Singapore – have established pro-business policies. This includes low taxes, simplified regulatory processes, and supportive government initiatives that encourage foreign investment. This business-friendly environment, coupled with the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, which eliminates intra-regional trade tariffs, means it has become easier for NZ tech companies to do business in Southeast Asia.

The region's connectivity and proximity to other major Asian economies makes Southeast Asia an ideal hub for those looking to establish a presence in the region. Firms large and small, from all corners of the globe have made the most of the location and pro-business environment and set up regional headquarters in Singapore. This has created a dynamic ecosystem which acts as a growth catalyst for technology companies.


3. Transparent government priorities.

New Zealand tech companies are in a prime position to tap into the focus areas identified by Singapore’s public and private sectors. The Singapore Government’s digital-first Smart Nation plan is creating and supporting opportunities in multiple areas where New Zealand has tech strengths including cloud and SaaS provision, fintech and digital payments, deep tech, and health tech, among many others.

Southeast Asia as a region is prioritising health and wellness, food security, and digital transformation, which presents an excellent opportunity for Kiwi businesses in deep tech, healthtech, cleantech, and edutech to provide solutions that cater to these needs. 

There is also a growing demand for cleantech innovation that helps achieve ESG goals across various sectors in Southeast Asia, with Singapore and South Korea leading the way. New Zealand tech companies' strengths in sustainability and environmental stewardship make them an attractive option for business clients looking for solutions that align with their ESG goals. Steve Dawson, founder of Asia Market Entry, highlights that New Zealand tech companies are well-known for their quality and focus on sustainability, which aligns well with the growing demand for ESG solutions in the region. 


With ingenuity and fresh challenging solutions at hand, New Zealand tech companies are providing Southeast Asia with innovative solutions that align with regional ambitions – and looking beyond the West, presents an exciting opportunity to tap into a rapidly growing market. Explore more Southeast Asia tech insights via free resources on myNZTE, or get in contact with NZTE for advice and connections to trusted experts to support your growth in Southeast Asia.   


NZTE acknowledges contributions from Asia Market Entry to this article.

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