Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines are the most promising growth spots in ASEAN, according to the Asian Competitiveness Institute at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

“In ASEAN, the bright spot is Indonesia first, followed by Vietnam, and then by the Philippines,” Professor Tan Khee Giap, co-director of the unit, told the ACI conference.

If Indonesia meets its goal of 7% GDP growth per year, it will be the 7th largest economy in the world by 2030, he added.

“Indonesia should rightly lead the charge in ASEAN,” he noted. “If you do that, ASEAN can be the fourth largest economy in the world,” he said to a room of Indonesian governors and senior officials.

“Indonesia matters more than it used to,” he noted, and innovation is vital to ensure that the nation continues to grow strongly.

Singapore believes that the benefits of rising Indonesia will “spill over”, he said, with the city-state becoming a maritime and logistics hub for the larger neighbour.

The Institute also announced plans to study the implication of a proposed canal that would cut through Thailand.

The Kra Canal has been mooted over many years, but recently there has been talk of China funding its construction through a 44km stretch across the narrowest part of the country.

This canal would be a “disruptive change,” Tan noted, and would impact Singapore’s port substantially.