Kuala Lumpur, 30 November 2010

Moving towards a more connected ASEAN Capital Market
ASEAN Finance Ministers conducted the seventh ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Investor Seminar (AFMIS) under the theme “Discovering Tomorrow’s ASEAN” in Kuala Lumpur today.

Eight countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia (host), Philippines, Singapore and Thailand representing 10 nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and over 500 regional and international capital market players, investors and intermediaries, attended the event.  The Seminar was co-organised by the Ministry of Finance Malaysia and the Securities Commission Malaysia.

The Finance Ministers affirmed that ASEAN as an asset class is a reality with huge potential. Member countries remain committed to ASEAN economic and financial integration and have introduced a variety of economic transformation and regulatory changes to reduce regulatory friction and the cost of doing business.

Significant progress has been achieved by the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) under its Implementation Plan towards promoting the development of an integrated ASEAN capital market.

These include, among others, initiatives to assess and rank ASEAN public listed companies against international corporate governance standards, harmonized standards relating to disclosure for cross-border offerings, facilitate cross-border offerings of products and the establishment of the ASEAN Exchange link. This will be supported by strengthened cross-border enforcement and cooperation amongst capital market regulators, as well as enhanced mechanisms to facilitate investors’ protection of their rights.

The ASEAN Infrastructure Fund was created to catalyse economic integration and progress ASEAN Connectivity objectives with a target size of US$800million in support of infrastructure projects. Todate, ASEAN states have pledged US$335 million to the fund.
Private sector participation and involvement in the ASEAN economic integration agenda is critical for sustainable and inclusive growth in the region. Clearly, ASEAN is now a business formula that is open to all market players and private investors who are encouraged to optimise the opportunities and leverage off the very facilitative regulatory framework.

ASEAN has tremendous potential. This ten-member bloc represents a market of 600 million people or 8.8% of the world’s population. In 2010, ASEAN’s combined nominal GDP had grown to USD$1.8 trillion. ASEAN collectively ranks as the 9th largest economy in the world and the 3rd largest in Asia in terms of nominal GDP. 

While IMF’s current projection for ASEAN’s growth is 5-6%, AFMIS believes ASEAN can go beyond this to 7%. To achieve this, it is imperative that ASEAN constantly reforms, collectively addresses tough issues and introduces regulatory changes to stay competitive and nimble.

The annual ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Investors Seminar, has previously been held in major global financial centres such as New York, London, Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore.