4 Asean states sign investment deal

The Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have signed a deal to allow cross-border business investment, connectivity, inclusiveness and resilience of capital, in an attempt to boost the bloc’s economic integration.

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Securities Commission Malaysia, Monetary Authority of Singapore and SEC Thailand are the first Asean securities regulators to participate in the initiative to allow cross-border movement of investment advisers.

The four states at the Asean Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) signed the Asean Capital Market Professional Mobility Framework, which is due to be implemented by January.

Brunei and Vietnam are apparently set to sign up next as Asean looks to emulate the European Union’s single market.

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong this week stressed the importance of Asean’s commitment to multilateralism and integration.

At a joint press conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Asean leaders’ summit, Lee said: “Asean remained steadfast in upholding the open and rules-based international trading system which have underpinned the region’s economic growth over the past decades.”

Lee said Singapore made sustainable development a key theme for its Asean chairmanship this year.

“As a regional grouping of diverse economies, Asean will face multiple challenges related to sustainable development, ranging from economic restructuring and accelerating urbanisation, to an ageing population,” said Lee, the world leader with the highest official pay with a wage of US$1.7 million a year.

“As we pursue economic integration … Asean also aligns our objectives with the sustainable development goals, so that economic growth will bring tangible improvements to the lives of our citizens,” he added.

Singapore would set up an office, Infrastructure Asia, to support implementation and to finance infrastructural projects, Lee added.

This week’s business investment initiative is designed to allow the free movement of professionals to provide investment advice and issue research reports on Asean financial products. Advisory services could be provided in the other countries with fast-tracked registration and no additional licensing requirements.

“Our investors will be benefited by this framework because if professionals from other Asean countries will come here under the framework, then information on any Asean financial products will be readily accessible and available,” Manila’s SEC said.

A professional seeking to offer investment advice will be eligible to obtain an ACMF pass once they obtain a licence in one of the registered nations.

Licensed professionals will also need to be attached to a registered firm but will not need to be a full-time member of staff.

Under the agreement, the hosting firm is responsible for monitoring the activities of a foreign professional.

Lack of access to capital is a major problem for businesses in impoverished Myanmar. Picture credit: Asean Economist