In 2023, Southeast Asia saw big economic changes with tech giants being punished by investors, Tesla entering the Malaysian market, and countries working to control inflation and stabilize their currencies. The region is now looking at clean energy, with countries like Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand focusing on renewable energy sources. The optimal policies for clean energy transitions will be a key story to watch in 2024.
China-U.S. rivalry is another issue to watch, particularly how Southeast Asian states navigate rising geopolitical tensions. Economic nationalism is also on the rise, with countries in the region using export bans and restrictions to prioritize domestic needs over free trade commitments.
The ways in which increasing competition creates opportunities for Southeast Asian economies is something to watch in the New Year. Middle powers in the region are increasingly looking to leverage geopolitical competition for better development outcomes.
Overall, the rise of economic nationalism and how it shapes trade and investment in the region will continue to be a significant story to watch in 2024. Countries in Southeast Asia are seeking terms of trade that yield more direct benefits for themselves and are less willing to support a system of global free trade that has sometimes failed to deliver.
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