Creative Industries in South East Asia

I’m speaking on a panel next week in Manchester for Insider Magazine titled Doing Business in South East Asia – and specifically relating to my experience working with the Singapore Media Development Authority.

Looking at the shape of the Creative Industries across SE Asia throws up some interesting similarities, some key differences and some surprising statistics.

One point of consensus is that the creative economy provides an opportunity to generate high value jobs and export potential, matching a desired trajectory away manufacturing. As a result many SE Asian countries have developed specific strategic policy and allocated significant investment funding – ranging from US$50M to US$500M – in pursuit of an increased economic impact and profile for their creative industries.

The differences are visible however in their starting points and approach:

Singapore has invested S$230M (US$170M) in its Singapore Media Fusion strategy, focusing on transnational collaboration. In recent years the media sector has grown at approx 7% p.a. with the Interactive Digital sector growing at an astonishing 25% p.a. Even starting from a small base given the size of Singapore that represents a significant shift.

In Indonesia the creative industries represents a major source of employment, 5.4 million people in an industry dominated almost entirely by Fashion and Craft. The creative industries contribute 6.3% of GDP, equivalent to US$10.5Bn, and recently Indonesia has been looking at a focus on a “creative city” development model, for example in  Bandung.

Thailand has allocated 20Bn Baht (over US$500M) to its Creative Thailand strategy with an intention to position itself as the “digital content and multimedia hub in Asia Pacific”. Yet whilst the creative industries are measured as representing 10-12% of Thai GDP investigation of the figures shows that the main component of that economic impact is from the Gemstones and Jewellery subsector, so a major rebalancing will be required to achieve its aim.

That said, whatever the underlying detail it is clear that UK creative businesses need to be aware of the rise of the East, whether SE Asia or China, as a combination of increased scale, reach and economic stimulus impacts within a globalised industry.

Insider International Trade Breakfast – SE Asia – 0800 16/9/10 – Manchester Art Gallery, Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3JL

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