Australian Government set to boost investment into Southeast Asia

2 min read

The A$2 billion Southeast Asia Investing Financing Facility (SEAIFF) is one of several measures recently announced by the Australian Government to boost investment and strengthen trade relationships between Australia and the Southeast Asia region.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced the A$2 billion SEAIFF while hosting Southeast Asian government and business leaders at a special summit in Melbourne, Australia. The SEAIFF will be managed by Export Finance Australia ("EFA"), and is in line with the key recommendation made in the Australian Government's report "Australia's Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040" (the "Economic Strategy"), which was led by Australia's Special Envoy for Southeast Asia, Nicholas Moore AO.

The SEAIFF – which will provide loans, guarantees, equity and insurance to fund energy transition and infrastructure projects in Southeast Asia – was announced alongside a range of other initiatives, including:

  • Partnerships for Infrastructure Program – an additional A$140 million for a program which supports Southeast Asian governments with the provision of infrastructure technical assistance (e.g. on planning and procurement); and
  • "Business Champions" – a selection of Australia's leading business leaders to facilitate trade and investment with specific Southeast Asian nations.

The Australian Government's announcement is striking in the context of bullish expectations surrounding Southeast Asia's economic prospects – the bloc is expected to be the fourth largest economy in the world by 2040 and is expected to require considerable infrastructure investment estimated at A$3 trillion by 2040. The Australian Government's initiatives are also notable amid uncertain and rising geopolitical tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

What does this mean?

For Southeast Asian developers and sponsors, details of the eligibility criteria, availability date and other key commercial parameters of the SEAIFF are yet to be publicly released – these details will ultimately determine the longer term impact of the SEAIFF. However, developers and sponsors can, at the very least, expect something similar to when the EFA's investment mandate was expanded in 2019, leading to an uptick in EFA participation in infrastructure projects in Asia Pacific (or, in this case, Southeast Asia).

For Australian businesses, the SEAIFF and the other initiatives announced by the Australian Government present an opportunity for further trade and investment engagement with Southeast Asian nations. For example, additional "landing pads" were announced to be established in Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City, in addition to an existing one in Singapore. These "landing pads" are designed to help Australian businesses break into new markets by assisting with market insights, expansion strategy, introduction to networks and venture capital. If successful, the Economic Strategy foreshadows expanding this model elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

Shruti Sudarsan (White & Case, Associate, Melbourne) contributed to the development of this publication.

White & Case means the international legal practice comprising White & Case LLP, a New York State registered limited liability partnership, White & Case LLP, a limited liability partnership incorporated under English law and all other affiliated partnerships, companies and entities.

This article is prepared for the general information of interested persons. It is not, and does not attempt to be, comprehensive in nature. Due to the general nature of its content, it should not be regarded as legal advice.

© 2024 White & Case LLP