Why invest in ASEAN?
ASEAN offers an infrastructure network that allows businessmen faster connection with countries within and outside the region. The region has at least 41 international airports and 57 major ports. Its road networks extend beyond urban areas. In many ASEAN countries, public transportation systems are among the world’s best.
In the 2012 Mercer City Infrastructure Ranking, Singapore led 221 cities evaluated in terms of electricity supply, water availability, telephone and mail services, public transportation, airport, and traffic congestion.
The Future of ASEAN Infrastructure
Investors can expect further improvements in ASEAN infrastructure. The region has laid out different strategies to ensure the realization of several priority infrastructure projects under the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity. Projects include the completion of the ASEAN Highway Network, implementation of the Singapore Kunming Rail Link project, realization of the Trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline (TAGP) Project, among others.
The ASEAN Highway Network (AHN) involves the integration of lagging areas in the region, covering 23 designated routes and 38,400 kilometres of roads. The Singapore Kunming Rail Link meanwhile is envisioned to link Singapore to China via two lines, an "Eastern line" through Thailand, Cambodia, and Viet Nam with a spur line between Lao PDR and Viet Nam, and a "Western line" passing through Thailand and Myanmar. TAGP, on the other hand, aims to develop a regional gas grid by 2020 by interconnecting existing and planned gas pipelines of ASEAN countries and enabling gas to be transported across borders.
ASEAN is mobilizing significant financial resources for these infrastructure projects. The ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF) which has the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and ASEAN Member States (except Myanmar) as shareholders, was incorporated in April 2012 and is expected to provide loans of up to US$300 million a year. The AIF is set to begin its lending operations in the second half of 2013. ADB cofinances and administers the AIF.
Reasons for Investing in ASEAN
ASEAN is a choice destination for ASEAN and international investors. Investors enjoy profitable operations and commit to deeper engagement in the region as shown by strong reinvestment and sustained growth in foreign direct investments (FDI). FDI stock in the region has quadrupled within a little more than a decade. In 2011, FDI stock exceeded US$1 trillion compared with only US$266 billion in 2000.