Countries with limited or small population such as Qatar must grow outside their own economies like Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and others, Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) said.
"Usually most economies in the world go outside to grow. Take the example of Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and others, all have grown by investing outside their economies," Surin Pitsuwan told the Qatari English daily "The Peninsula" Wednesday.
"GCC states, especially Qatar, with huge wealth and limited population must go outside to invest and remit the profit back home." added the Secretary General. "Southeast Asia is very much attractive destinations for Qatari private sector companies."
ASEAN has been preparing the ground to attract investment from the Gulf States. The region is well connected with metro and has a lot of economic complementarities through people, culture and religion.
Pitsuwan was in Doha with a number of political and business leaders from across the ASEAN region, including Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud of Sarawak, Malaysia, to participate in a two-day conference "Inside Investor Forum Asia 2012", organized by Qatari Businessmen Association.
"We have a lot of potential and here (Qatar) they have a lot of capital and 'know how' in wealth and business management. Just come and look at the wide and varied business opportunities across all the 10 member countries," he said.
"The service and agro business industry in Singapore is something that the Gulf countries need to establish linkage to achieve food security and food supply for future."
Food production and food processing is a major industry which has very bright future as the seven billion world population is soon going to be nine billion which needs to eat. So both the regions need to look and explore these opportunities together.
"Qatar has already started exploring opportunities as lot of Qataris are coming to Southeast Asia for medical tourism. But tourists are limited to tourism and healthcare, so businesses must come and explore," he said.
Asked to comment on some of the major challenges that the GCC investors were facing in ASEAN region, he said: "Lack of information, knowledge, and lack of appreciation for the opportunities are the major bottlenecks."
The meeting in Doha, which was concluded yesterday, also witnessed launch of an in-depth business report that provides overviews on key industries and analyses on major economic and infrastructural development in both the regions.
In the past few years, the GCC states have been intensifying their economic relations with ASEAN countries pushing the trade volume at over $83 billion in 2010, up 24 percent from $67 billion in 2009. ASEAN’s exports reached $20 billion, while imports reached $63 billion in 2010.