ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was founded in 1967 to strengthen further the existing bonds of regional solidarity and cooperation. 

From the original five member countries, ASEAN has grown to ten members covering more than 1.7 million square miles — more than half the size of the continental U.S. — and a population of 626 million with an economy valued at $2.4 trillion. The 10 members are: Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. 

Many countries seeing the potential of this region and are planning to make considerable investments of political, economic and diplomatic engagement. Due to ASEAN’s vibrant economy and vast market with large young population, many countries are looking to increase their exports into the ASEAN markets. 

If the grouping were a country by itself, it would rank ninth in the world for total GDP. Its trade pacts with Japan, India, South Korea and, most importantly, China will pave the way for a regional economic bloc that will rival the EU. It is a dynamic region, one whose economy is the fastest growing in the world. 

It is therefore understandable why HSBC wants it U.K. clients to learn more about this very culturally diverse association and consider raising the level of exports. "Business relationships are not as transactional as they can be in other parts of the world, and it is the relationships that you foster that can ultimately help your company reap the rewards of operating in the ASEAN market. A key challenge for businesses looking to operate in the ASEAN market is getting top quality people into the business – you have to have a compelling proposition to stand out from your competition."