2015 is expected to be an important year for many Asian countries, particularly when the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is slated to be formed by the end of the year, promising to drive economic expansion in Southeast Asia, according to economists.

Stephen Grundlingh, co-CEO for Singapore and regional head for Southeast Asia at asset manager Franklin Templeton Investments, said that emerging markets are forecast to grow at 5 percent this year, as compared to 2.3 to 2.5 percent in developed markets.

There is a massive opportunity over the long term for investors, he said, citing major reforms underway in many Asian countries, from China, India, the Republic of Korea to Indonesia, and Japan’s huge economic stimulation package.

According to Grundlingh, Franklin Templeton Investments expects massive inflows of capital into Asia along with the upcoming free trade agreement introduced by the AEC will drive the economies over the region quite significantly.

To tap the growth prospects, Franklin Templeton Investments has launched the Templeton ASEAN Fund and planned to set up more equity-funds focused on Asia and ASEAN in particular.

Franklin Templeton Investments has 899.5 billion USD in assets under management and is one of the top cross-border mutual fund companies in the world, according to Lipper FMI-Thompson Reuters as of Dec 31, 2013.-VNA