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Friday, 24 May 2019

Why Money Coming into Asia

Is Europe Attractive? Not Quite, Ernst & Young Finds

It has been reported :

In a recent extensive study (44 pages) of how attractive Europe is to foreign direct investment (FDI), Ernst & Young reveals that the UK and the Continent, while still key players, are slowly losing their attractiveness to China, India and Eastern Europe. Slow expected economic growth in the region and the recent crisis in Greece, Spain, Italy, Iceland and Portugal are only worsening the influx of capital. One mitigating recent factor is the dramatic fall in the value of the Euro, which could actually work in Europe’s favor, as inwards investments can now buy more local stuff with less foreign currency.

Investors are now focused on a new world, one which includes China, India, Brazil and the Middle-East on equal footing with North America, Europe and Japan both the destinations and sources of global investment. Capital is now clearly fl owing in multiple directions, with hitherto new corporate giants emerging, and new opportunities and challenges.

While clearly the old order is leaving us, the new rules of competitive success have yet to be established. And in this new environment, Europe is still perceived as lacking clarity in direction or the necessary commitment and speed to adapt. And that is the crux of why investors are seeking other global areas to put their money.

Europe needs to wake-up, if it is going to stay in the race with cost-effective Eastern Europe or knowledge-intensive Asia/US.Overall FDI did fall 39% from 2008 to 2009, and investments in Europe slid 36% in the same period, so the continent did slightly better. The number of FDI projects in Europe fell 11% to 3,303 in 2009. Interestingly, the BRICs are the third-largest investor in Europe. Western Europe is still perceived as the second most popular destination for FDI but in 2010 investors rank China the world’s most attractive FDI destination, followed by India and Eastern Europe.

Ernst and Young makes a very important observation – “Geography becomes a relative concept and old illusions about East and West have crumbled. Sophisticated economic centers, stability and attractive markets are found worldwide, by global corporations originating in both mature economies and fast-growth markets.”In this flat world, with emerging markets (with higher GDP growth) becoming top sources and destinations of FDI, slower-growing Europe has to compete, and here are some ways how to do it:


  • Policies that remove barriers to its undoubted business and innovation talent
  • Promoting entrepreneurs, not its policy-makers,
  • Support small and medium enterprises, high-tech industries and innovation,
  • Reduce taxation and increase flexibility
  • Governments to guarantee security, stability, provide aid and growth through public initiatives


While this study focuses only on Europe, there are some golden data nuggets hidden within the charts and graphs, for example, job creation in Europe by BRIC companies grew by 34% in 2009 to make up 10% of new FDI jobs (from 6% in 2008).

The entire report is a must-read for all those interested in putting their money to work in Europe, and for European leaders and governments who need to find innovative ways to attract investors into their countries.

Download it here Ernst and Young, Europe, attractiveness survey, foreign direct investment, BRIC


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2011 All-Asia Research Team: Investors Rethink Asia Research

May 16, 2011 • Allen T. Cheng


It has been reported :

Despite fears of a slowdown fueled in part by rising inflation, Asia continues to enjoy robust economic growth and attract institutional investors from around the globe. Stronger-than- expected year-over-year growth in China’s first- quarter real gross domestic product — 9.7 percent, compared with 1.8 percent in the U.S. — prompted the World Bank last month to raise its 2011 forecast for the region’s largest economy from 8.7 percent to 9.3 percent, and from 8.4 percent to 8.7 percent for 2012.


"Asia stands at the intersection of three fundamental drivers, dynamics economies, increased global focus and significant variation in maturity of markets and participants," observes Joseph Osha, head of Asia equity research at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research. Those factors help make asian stock exchanges start performers. the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index gained 16.9 percent year-over-year through March, in dollar terms, compared with a 13.4 percent rise in the Standard & Poor's 500 index over the same period. The Bangkok SET index led the region, surging 32.9 percent, while Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh stock index brought up the rear by lodging a 7.6 percent loss.


Soaring prices of food, fuel and commodities could prove to be a drag on local economies and drive more markets down. The Asian Development Bank noted in a report last month that inflation in developing Asia could cut into GDP growth by as much as 1.5 percentage points. Curbing inflation remains the region's biggest economic challenge, with prices expected to rise at an average rate of 5.3 percent this year before slowing to 4.6 percent in 2012, according to the Manila-based lender. The ADB anticipates regional GDP growth of 7.8 percent in 2011 and 7.7 percent next year.


"Developing Asia will continue to spearhead the global recover," the ADB stated in its "Outlook 2011" report. "Private demand is sustaining growth even as monetary and fiscal policies are normalized. The region's growth in 2011 will remain vigorous, albeit somewhat slower than in 2010. Inflation pressures are building, however and overheating is an emerging threat in some economies.


Given Asia's mix of significant upside and potential trouble on the horizon, investors need timely, accurate research to help them make the most of all that the region has to offer. Portfolio managers say that analysts who provide the best guidance and most helpful insights can be found at BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research, which skyrockets from eight place last year to capture the top spot on the 2011 All-Asia Research Team, Institutional Investor's 18th annual ranking of the region's best researchers. The firm wins 31 total team positions - ten more than last year - including eight teams in first place in their respective sectors. Morgan Stanley, with 28 team positions (four more than last year), jumps two spots, to second place; while the firm with which it shared fourth place in 2010, J.P. Morgan, rises to third, with 26 positions. UBS, with 24 positions, also enjoys upward momentum, climbing from No. 6 to No. 4. Rounding out the top five is Citi, with 23 positions; the firm tied for second place last year. Survey results are based on responses from nearly 3,000 buy-side analysts and investment professionals at some 935 institutions managing an estimated $1.6 trillion in non-Japanese Asian equities.


BofA's heightenend prominence in the eyes of investors is perhaps not surprising in light of the firm's efforts to increase coverage of Asian equities. Though Osha declined to disclose the number of analysts he has recovering the region.


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S'pore, KL ink details of land swop deal


Written instrument spells out implementation details of landmark agreement.

It has been reported :

PUTRAJAYA: A 20-year wrangle over Malayan railway land that had dogged ties between Singapore and Malaysia came to a close yesterday, after both sides put pen to paper and agreed on the implementation details of a landmark land swop.

Hailed as a deal that would take the relationship between the neighbours to a new level, the so-called Written Instrument was signed by Singapore Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam and Malaysia's Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Nor Mohamed Yakcop.

Indeed, among the major components of the deal is a rapid transit system (RTS) link that will allow for speedy commutes between Johor Baru and Singapore.

To be operational by 2018, the link will feature co-located Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) facilities in both Singapore and Johor Baru so commuters need to clear immigration only once each way. The terminating stations of the link will be near JB Sentral in Johor Baru, and near Republic Polytechnic in Singapore.

A technical workgroup on the link has been formed, and a tender for a consultancy study on it will be called by the fourth quarter of this year.

The Written Instrument, finalised after months of negotiations between officials from both countries, spells out the implementation details of a deal first struck by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak last year.

That deal resolved the impasse over the Points of Agreement (POA) signed in 1990 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and then Malaysian Finance Minister Daim Zainuddin, under which the Malayan Railway (KTM) station would be moved from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands.

However, it was not implemented because of the differing interpretations of a few clauses.

In a joint statement yesterday, both Mr Lee and Datuk Seri Najib said the signing of the Written Instrument would pave the way for both countries to explore new areas of cooperation. They also reiterated their desire to further strengthen ties.

Mr Shanmugam, who is also Law Minister, said after the signing: 'It really takes the relationship to a different level. I think it's win-win for both parties, and it promises much more. In every sense, it's a historic moment.'

Tan Sri Nor said Malaysia was 'very happy that both governments have come out in the spirit of cooperation and understanding to resolve all outstanding issues'.

'It's a new beginning for cooperation, in attracting investments into Malaysia and Singapore'.


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IMF cuts US Growth Forecast

Europe, US 'playing with fire' unless they move to reduce deficits


It has been reported:


The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for U.S. economic growth on Friday and warned Washington and debt-ridden European countries that they are "playing with fire" unless they take immediate steps to reduce their budget deficits.

The IMF, in its regular assessment of global economic prospects, said bigger threats to growth had emerged since its previous report in April, citing the euro zone debt crisis and signs of overheating in emerging market economies.

The Washington-based global lender forecast that U.S. gross domestic product would grow a tepid 2.5 percent this year and 2.7 percent in 2012. In its forecast just two months ago, it had expected 2.8 percent and 2.9 percent growth, respectively.

With regard to the global economy overall, the IMF struck a measured tone, saying the slowdown of recent months should be "temporary." It trimmed its forecast for global growth this year only slightly, to 4.3 percent from 4.4 percent, and maintained its estimate for robust Chinese growth of 9.6 percent despite recent signs of a slowdown there.

Yet that relatively benign global outlook could quickly fall apart if politicians in the United States and Europe do not start showing more leadership in addressing their countries' debt problems, the fund warned.

"You cannot afford to have a world economy where these important decisions are postponed, because you're really playing with fire," said Jose Vinals, director of the IMF's monetary and capital markets department.

"We have now entered very clearly into a new phase of the (global) crisis, which is, I would say, the political phase of the crisis," he said in an interview in Sao Paulo, where the updates to the IMF's World Economic Outlook and Global Financial Stability Report were published.

In the United States, the political problems include a fight over raising the legal ceiling on the nation's debt. A first-ever U.S. default would roil markets, and Fitch Ratings said even a "technical" default would jeopardize the country's AAA rating.

The IMF said the outlook for the U.S. budget deficit this year has improved somewhat due to higher-than-expected revenues. In a separate report, it forecast a deficit of 9.9 percent of GDP -- better than the deficit of 10.8 percent of GDP it foresaw in April, but still near historic highs.


The fund, which has endured its own political crisis due to the resignation of its chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on sexual assault charges, said the global economy "has gained ground" despite a slowdown it deemed "not reassuring."

It attributed the weakness to temporary disruptions such as the Japan earthquake, bad weather pressuring food crops and higher energy prices. Global growth should "reaccelerate" during the second half of the year, the report said.

The fund's forecast for global growth next year remained unchanged at 4.5 percent.

The IMF raised its growth view for the euro area in 2011 to 2.0 percent from 1.6 percent. For 2012, the IMF saw growth at 1.7 percent, little changed from its previous 1.8 percent.

Yet Europe also poses some of the biggest risks to the global economy, Vinals said.

"If you make a list of the countries in the world that have the biggest homework in restoring their public finances to a reasonable situation in terms of debt levels, you find four countries: Greece, Ireland, Japan and the United States," Vinals said.

Greece has edged closer to default as euro zone officials disagree on a planned second aid package for the indebted country. With strikes and protests around the country, political turmoil has added to uncertainty, stoking fears that the government will not be able to tighten its belt enough to reduce crippling deficits.

Fears of contagion in the euro zone have driven global stock markets lower in recent sessions.

The fund raised its forecast for Germany, the powerhouse of the euro zone, to 3.2 percent from 2.5 percent, with growth moderating to 2 percent in 2012.

Forecasts for large emerging markets remained stable or slipped. While China's GDP view stayed unchanged, the IMF lowered its Brazil outlook to 4.1 percent from 4.5 percent.

Those countries, along with Russia, India and South Africa, make up the fast-growing BRICS, a group of emerging economies whose brisk expansion has outstripped that of developed markets recently.

Robust economic growth and rising inflation have caused emerging economies to tighten monetary policy with higher interest rates and reserve requirements, even as many developed nations keep policy ultra-loose to try to boost anemic growth.

The IMF warned that many emerging markets still need more tightening. In China, for example, the high inflation rate means negative real interest rates.

Some emerging markets have been reluctant to tighten too far, fearful of derailing growth or attracting speculative investment flows that could push their currencies ever higher.


The Straits Times (18 June 2011)




Opening Address by Mr Ravi Menon, Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore, at the Merrill Lynch Asian Stars Conference 2011


It is reported that:

Resilience, Integration, Opportunity: The ASEAN Story

Mr Brian Brille, Mr Peter MacDonald, Mr Richard McCormack, distinguished speakers, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

Resurgence of Asia

1. According to estimates by the late British economist, Angus Maddison, two thousand years ago, India had the largest GDP in the world. China was close behind. Together, they accounted for more than half of global GDP. Asia ex Japan was 75 per cent of world GDP. And this was at the height of the Roman Empire in Europe, which accounted for just 10 per cent of global output. Over the next 1,800 years, the two Asian giants remained the largest economies in the world, with China pulling ahead of India about 500 years ago. For much of this period, Asia ex Japan was typically about three times larger than Western Europe.

2. Then came the Industrial Revolution in Europe. By the start of the First World War, Europe and America accounted for more than half of global GDP, with the combined share of India and China falling to less than 20 per cent. By 1950, the share of India and China fell to less than 10 per cent. Asia less Japan was only about 15 per cent.

3. Since then, the story has been of Asia’s resurgence. By the end of the last century, Asia less Japan had doubled its share to 30 per cent of global GDP. China is already the second largest economy in the world, India the fourth largest, and you are all familiar with the various projections of when these two economies will become the largest and third largest respectively. The rest of Asia will continue to be the most buoyant region in the world, as it has been for the last 50 years.

4. The story of China and India as the new growth engines of the world has been told numerous times. I would therefore like to tell the story of the third growth engine of Asia - ASEAN.

The ASEAN Value Proposition

5. ASEAN is a two-trillion-dollar economy, the fifth largest in the world at purchasing power parity terms, ahead of Russia, Brazil, France and the United Kingdom. The external trade volume of the ASEAN-5 economies(Indonesia,Malaysia, Thailand, Philippines, Singapore) is more than three times that of India’s total trade and about 60 percent that of China’s. ASEAN provides good diversification for investors’ Asian portfolios. Last year, foreign direct investments into the ASEAN-5 totaled nearly US$70 billion, roughly three times the inflows into India.

6. Let me touch on three aspects of the ASEAN story.

First, ASEAN is resilient: it rode the global financial crisis very well. I will assess how ASEAN is now coping with the post-crisis risks of inflation and capital inflows.

Second, ASEAN is getting more integrated. I will discuss the progress ASEAN is making towards a single market and production base, which will create a more seamless marketplace for businesses.

Third, ASEAN is opportunity. I will focus on the significant investment opportunities in ASEAN, especially in the area of infrastructure.

Resilience: Managing Inflation and Capital Inflows

7. Let me begin by touching on ASEAN’s resilience in the face of external shocks. The Asian financial crisis of 1998/99 was a life-changing experience for many countries in the region. They were badly affected by the crisis and resolved never again to be so vulnerable. Macroeconomic policies have become more sound, financial regulation and supervision has tightened, national balance sheets strengthened, structural reforms stepped up, and corporate governance enhanced.

8. The ASEAN countries consequently showed remarkable resilience in the recent crisis. While credit tightened and trade plunged during the height of the crisis, there was no systemic financial fallout, especially in the banking industry. The region rebounded strongly, with the ASEAN-5 growing by 8 per cent in 2010. This year, growth is expected in the range of 5 to 6 per cent.

9. But strong growth has come with a new set of challenges. ASEAN and the rest of Asia are now grappling with rising inflation. Consumer prices are forecast to increase by 5.1 per cent in the ASEAN-5 this year, compared to 3.8 percent in 2010. Several factors underpin this.

10. First, elevated food prices. In the ASEAN-5 economies, food accounts for about a third of the consumption basket, much higher than advanced economies. Given this high weight of food, food price increases have a strong direct impact on headline inflation.

11. Second, strong inflows of capital adding to asset price and domestic demand pressures. Low interest rates in the advanced economies have prompted global investors to seek higher returns in emerging economies, especially in Asia.

12. Third, Asia’s strong recovery from the crisis has led to high rates of capacity utilisation and tightening of labour markets. This has prompted a gradual build-up in wage-price pressures.

13. I do not want to minimise the inflation risks in Asia – no central banker would take a light attitude towards inflation risks – but I do want to put the issue in perspective.

14. Some of the price pressures facing Asia are no doubt structural. We can expect the relative price of food – and commodities in general – to increase over the medium to long term on the back of growing global demand especially in the emerging economies. Likewise, capital will continue to flow from advanced economies to emerging economies, reflecting growth differentials and a shift in global portfolios towards higher yielding Asian assets. These two factors will be a source of inflation bias in emerging Asia over the medium term.

15. But a good part of the inflation in Asia is also temporary. The pace of food price inflation and capital inflows into Asia will moderate compared to the last two years. Much of the recent food price increases reflect the impact of supply disruptions, and these are largely expected to be of a temporary nature. Capital inflows are also unlikely to persist at the volumes seen in the last two years, as monetary policy settings in the advanced economies are normalised.

16. More importantly, policymakers in most Asian economies are not behind the curve, or at least not anymore. Central banks in ASEAN are deeply cognisant of underlying inflation risks. They have either hiked interest rates or allowed the exchange rates to appreciate over time or done both. Malaysia and Thailand have raised policy rates by four and six times respectively since early 2010. Key ASEAN countries are also relying more on exchange rate appreciation to dampen import price pressures.

17. In Singapore, MAS preemptively tightened exchange rate policy as early as April 2010. Subsequently, exchange rate policy was tightened in October 2010 and again in April this year. Allowing the Singapore dollar to strengthen has had a dampening effect on inflation in Singapore,which would otherwise have been much higher. Headline inflation has probably peaked in Singapore and is expected to average 3 to 4 per cent this year. Core inflation – which excludes private transport and accommodation costs – is expected to be 2 to 3 per cent this year.

18. ASEAN policymakers have also been complementing monetary policy actions with macroprudential measures aimed at managing the inflationary effects of strong inflows of short-term capital. Indonesia has increased the holding period for its short-term debt, while Thailand has imposed a withholding tax on interest and capital gains earned by foreign investors on Thai bonds. Singapore has also implemented a series of macroprudential measures to curb speculative activity and to ensure a stable and sustainable property market.

19. Most ASEAN-5 economies, including Singapore, have also scaled back the expansionary fiscal policies introduced during the crisis.

20. In short, ASEAN policymakers have been proactive in addressing inflationary pressures but will need to remain vigilant because the risks are not over yet. Inflation is expected to peak this year and moderate going into 2012. The ASEAN economies’ hard-won macroeconomic stability will give them the resilience to ride a challenging external environment.

Integration: Towards a Single Market

21. Even as they build up their resilience, the ASEAN countries have been working steadily towards greater economic integration. ASEAN has committed to building by 2015 the ASEAN Economic Community (“AEC”), a single market and production base. This will allow goods, services, investments and capital to flow more seamlessly across the ASEAN region. More importantly, it will give ASEAN an economic heft and relevance that corresponds to that of China and India.

22. The different levels of development within ASEAN has been often cited as a reason why integration will not work in ASEAN. On the contrary, the different sources of comparative advantage and therefore factor prices across ASEAN, offers a powerful incentive to develop an efficient pan-ASEAN production network. Indeed, this has already happened in manufacturing, especially electronics. It needs to happen across a broader set of economic activities. The economic case for ASEAN integration is strong. It is a matter of political will to make it happen.

23. Progress in integration has been strongest in merchandise trade. The ASEAN-6 countries have eliminated tariffs on 99.7 percent of goods. Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have committed to reduce tariffs on 98.6 percent of goods to zero to five percent.

24. But as all cross-border businesses know very well, enhancing trade links is not just about reducing tariffs. It is equally, if not more, about reducing non-tariff barriers and streamlining regulations. In May last year, the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (“ATIGA”) came in to effect. The ATIGA not only entrenches tariff reductions, it also lowers the cost of doing business and simplifies trade-related transactions through enhanced trade facilitation measures and customs procedures.

25. Liberalisation of cross-border services in ASEAN has also intensified, albeit slower compared to goods. ASEAN has committed to remove substantially most restrictions on trade in services through eleven packages of commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (“AFAS”). In financial services, members are working to progressively liberalise the insurance, banking and capital markets sectors. The aim is to provide financial institutions operating in ASEAN better access to the entire ASEAN customer base, and facilitate regional expansion.

26. In addition to facilitating internal integration, ASEAN has been active in linking up with other Asian economies through its strategy of open regionalism. ASEAN has a number of Free Trade Agreements with key Asian economies, including China, Japan, India and Korea. These pan-Asian linkages enable ASEAN to serve as a springboard for investors seeking access to key markets in Asia.

27. Indeed, measured by the degree of intra-regional trade, Asia is already the second most integrated region in the world, after the European Union. And ASEAN is at the nucleus of this expanding network of trade and transport connections spanning Asia.

Opportunity: Investment in Infrastructure

28. A resilient and integrated ASEAN offers considerable investment opportunities, especially in infrastructure.

29. The demand for infrastructure investment in the region is significant. A report released by the Asian Development Bank Institute (“ADBI”) estimates that the total investment needs for national infrastructure development in Asia, from 2010 to 2020, will total about US$8.2 trillion, or an average of US$745 billion per year.

30. But supply – in terms of actual public and private infrastructure investment - has not matched demand. The World Bank has estimated that private sector investment into Asian infrastructure from 1990 to 2008 totaled just US$423 billion or an average of US$22 billion per year. The four ASEAN nations (Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand) included in the ADBI study, allocated in the fiscal stimulus packages introduced during the crisis a total US$37 billion to infrastructure spending. Comparatively, the four nations’ estimated investment needs from 2010 to 2020 total US$874 billion, or an average of US$80 billion per year.

31. This gap between demand and supply needs to be met. Better infrastructure will enhance connectivity, reduce the cost of transactions, and help to grow markets.

32. While Asia’s infrastructure needs have traditionally been financed largely by government debt, Asian governments are increasingly recognising that their own balance sheets cannot support the required scale of infrastructure development. Thus, private sector participation is welcome in the region.

33. But public-private partnerships (“PPP”) in Asia face not insignificant risks. PPP policies are not always well-defined, regulatory and legal systems are sometimes weak, and there are varying restrictions on foreign ownership.

34. Robust legal frameworks and clear PPP policies need to be put in place. Singapore has been supporting such efforts in partnership with multilateral agencies such as the World Bank.

35. In 2009, we established the World Bank-Singapore Urban Hub to bring together Singapore's public agencies, research institutes, and private sector players to share experiences with developing countries, especially in areas such as water and waste management, land use planning, and urban development. To expand the Urban Hub’s infrastructure finance advisory work, an Infrastructure Finance Centre of Excellence (IFCOE) was launched last year.

36. The Urban Hub has also partnered the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise – a platform that leverages on the public sector expertise of Singapore. Together, they have implemented six projects in Indonesia, Vietnam, China and Mongolia. This includes helping these governments develop a regulatory and financing framework to prepare PPP projects for private sector investment.

37. Regional governments have also introduced schemes to encourage private sector investment. For example, the Indonesian Ministry of Finance has worked with the World Bank to set up the Indonesia Infrastructure Guarantee Fund. This fund provides guarantees to the private sector against risks arising from government actions, so as to improve the creditworthiness and quality of PPP infrastructure projects.

38. A critical success factor for achieving Asia’s infrastructure investment potential is a well-developed financial sector. Asia needs financial markets that are deep enough to effectively intermediate its considerable savings pool and broad enough to provide a range of suitable instruments for risk mitigation. Although ASEAN has made progress on these fronts since the 1997 crisis, more needs to be done. These include strengthening legal and regulatory frameworks, increasing market access, harmonising cross border regulations, and raising the level of corporate governance.

39. ASEAN has set in motion several initiatives. It has drawn up a scorecard to identify gaps in the development of bond markets. Its capital markets regulators are working on initiatives to harmonise domestic laws, regulations, and practices. It has introduced the ASEAN Plus Standards, which are disclosure requirements based on the standards on cross-border offerings set by the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (“IOSCO”). And last month, some ASEAN exchanges announced plans to establish linkages to facilitate trading among them as well as to jointly market themselves to international investors.

40. It is early days yet. ASEAN is still some way to having a well-developed and integrated capital market. But the resolve is strong, important steps have been taken, and progress has been made compared to ten years ago. And as ASEAN’s capital markets grow and integrate, long-term investments such as infrastructure will become much more attractive to private sector players.


41. Let me conclude. ASEAN is a diverse collective of nations at various stages of development. In some ways, this is a disadvantage compared to sovereign economies like China and India. But in other ways, it is an advantage, providing investors in Asia a good diversification opportunity and the value proposition of a network of value-adding activities leveraging on the different comparative advantages of its member countries.

42. I congratulate Bank of America-Merrill Lynch for organising this impressive conference. You have put together a comprehensive line-up of topics that go into the specifics of investment opportunities in Asia. I wish you fruitful discussions and an enjoyable time in Singapore.

Thank you.

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