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Southeast Asia: Political Pawn or Proxy (w/ Adam Schwarz)

by Steve Stine

My guest in this Inside Asia episode is Adam Schwarz, Founder and CEO of Asia Group Advisors, a strategy and investment advisory firm operating across Southeast Asia. Adam and his firm have made it their business to understand the economic and geopolitical complexities that inhabit this part of the world.

In this conversation, we unpack some of the challenges the region faces from the Coronavirus outbreak to the rising influence of its neighbor to the north – China.

As my conversation with Adam reveals, investors are swarming, supply-chains are shifting, and confidence is mounting. The sub-region’s ability to weather and managed the Covid-19 crises will either make or break the rate of that ascendance. Much is yet to be seen.

Politically, the US has distanced itself from the region for all the wrong reasons and at precisely the wrong time. US investors and multinationals operating in this part of the world aren’t happy about that. Layer in China’s ambitions and the fact that it is now the region’s largest trading partner and the possibility for one of two scenarios emerges.

I start out by asking Adam to reflect on how less developed markets in the region were equipped to handle the Coronavirus outbreak.