The Regional Outlook Forum (ROF) is the flagship event of ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute held every year in January. Now in its 22nd iteration, this one-day conference focuses on the macro trends, developments and challenges facing Southeast Asia in the immediate, short and medium-term, sharing insights from distinguished scholars and intellectuals as well as seasoned practitioners with international and regional reputation.

The Regional Outlook Forum 2019 will examine global and regional trends and highlight domestic developments in key Southeast Asian countries to shed more light on what lies beyond the horizon including the pitfalls and opportunities ahead.

US-China Competition

The geo-strategic and economic competition between the United States and China has intensified as manifested in their differing concepts and approaches on cooperating with other countries and a trade war that has far-reaching implications for Southeast Asia and beyond. Although no stranger to big power dynamics, Southeast Asia is increasingly caught between the uncertainties and challenges arising from the United States and China dynamics.

Nearer to Home

A number of Southeast Asian countries are either in the post-election phase or gearing up for elections that will shape the political and socio-economic landscape in these countries in the years to come. Most notably, Indonesia is preparing for presidential elections in April 2019 while the historic election in Malaysia in May 2018 is still reverberating domestically. In Thailand, questions continue to swirl over how and in what manner the political situation will evolve after several failed election promises while Myanmar juggles with much-needed socio-economic reforms and the situation in Rakhine state.


Amidst the uncertainties and challenges, there is some positive news. Asia remains the most dynamic region in the world and is a very important pillar of global growth. In Southeast Asia, countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Cambodia are growing at a commendable rate of more than six per cent per year. There is a further view that the trade war between the United States and China will result in more companies and businesses relocating and investing in Southeast Asia, thereby generating more employment opportunities and raising living standards in the region although the impact of this will vary from country to country.

ROF 2019
will feature the following issues:

  • How will the worsening US-China relations affect Southeast Asia?
  • What are the ramifications of America’s ‘’Free and Open Indo-Pacific’’ strategy?
  • How viable is the Pakatan Harapan coalition government? Can UMNO reform itself?
  • What are the policy platforms and prospects for Jokowi and Prabowo in the 2019 presidential election?
  • What kind of political order will ensue in Thailand and will it be sustainable?
  • What are the achievements of the Myanmar government and the challenges facing it?
  • What are the pertinent political trends and economic prospects for Vietnam?

Moderators & Speakers