Chief Executive Officer of Maybank Kim Eng Group of Malaysia Dato John Chong (Photo: theedgemarkets)

Singapore (VNA)
– New technology will be among key forces promoting investment flows into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Chief Executive Officer of Maybank Kim Eng Group of Malaysia Dato John Chong said at the Invest ASEAN Conference held recently in Singapore.

Chong told participants that new and disruptive technology impacts almost every industry, propelling the growth of technology start-ups in ASEAN. Funds for newly-established start-ups hit about 6.5 billion USD in 2017, twice the amount of 3.1 billion USD in the previous year, he said.

The general director voiced his belief that the technology environment in ASEAN is still at an early phase of growth despite the disruption in the marketplace. The majority of ASEAN’s technology deals in recent past are still at the seed-stage, and while e-commerce is growing rapidly in ASEAN, the penetration rate remains relatively low at between 2-5 percent compared with more established markets like the Republic of Korea, China and the US.

Vietnam is a key regional market of Maybank Kim Eng in the field of e-commerce thanks to an attractive population structure and growing economy, Chong said, noting that the group will invest additional 10 million USD in the country to meet the demand of expanding investment in securities market and banking sector.

Aside from technology, the head of Maybank Kim Eng said between 2006 and 2016, China’s outward investments into ASEAN had risen from 1.8 billion USD to 71.6 billion USD, making it the third-largest foreign direct investment contributor to ASEAN.

In 2017, ASEAN-China trade rose 16 percent against the previous year. ASEAN accounts for the largest share of Chinese investments in mergers and acquisitions (M&As), making up about 30 percent of the total M&A investment in Belt and Road countries for 2005 to 2016.

China strengthened its commitment to the One Belt, One Road Initiative (BRI) by pledging an additional 124 billion USD. Given China’s high savings rate and its push to strengthen regional connectivity via the BRI, the capital flows to ASEAN will continue increasing and accelerating in the next few years.

At the Invest ASEAN Conference, more than 900 representatives from 132 global investment funds and nearly 60 businesses managing total assets of up to 16 trillion USD discussed investment opportunities in the region, based on assessment of geopolitics, business and technology which may drive ASEAN development in the future.-VNA