Business group: Southeast Asia is the "new China" for supply chains.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – According to the head of an influential regional business body, Southeast Asia is the "new China" and should be at the center of the global supply chain.
Arsjad Rasjid, chairperson of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), stated in an interview that the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should be the world's "supply chain."
"ASEAN should be the world's supply chain; ASEAN is the new China," Arsjad said in an interview with Al Jazeera last week.
Arsjad, who also leads the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, believes the bloc is on track to replace China "as soon as tomorrow" because the region's abundance of nickel and other key minerals.
"Food and agriculture are also important in ASEAN countries," said Arsjad, who was in Kuala Lumpur to meet with government officials and business leaders.
The remarks come as China and Chinese companies, particularly in critical sectors such as advanced chips, face increasing Western-imposed restrictions in the midst of Washington-heated Beijing's geopolitical rivalry. Tensions have prompted industry titans such as Apple, Google, and Samsung to seek new manufacturing bases outside of China, particularly in Vietnam.
ASEAN-BAC, ASEAN's private sector arm, is tasked with facilitating regional economic cooperation and integration. This year, Indonesia serves as ASEAN's chairman.
According to US Geological Survey data, Indonesia has the world's largest nickel reserves at 21 million tonnes, accounting for nearly one-quarter of the global total. With 4.8 million metric tonnes, the Philippines has the fourth-largest reserves. Nickel is a critical component in the production of stainless steel, electronic devices and electric vehicles.
"Indonesia contributes 40% of global nickel output. "If you include the Philippines, it rises to 50-60 percent," Arsjad explained.
Indonesia, along with Thailand and Vietnam, aims to become a key player in the electric vehicle supply chain by attracting investment by leveraging its large nickel reserves.
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