Asean countries pull together
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Asean countries pull together

One of southeast Asia’s top finance officials says that the region must continue to harmonize if it is to stave off the threat of growing competition from China and other north Asian economies.

Raymond Lim, Singapore’s second finance minister, tells Euromoney that the Association of South-East Asian Nations “can’t survive as individual entities” and that “integration is not a matter of choice but a necessity” for the 10 countries that make up the trade bloc.

Lim’s comments come as Asean’s finance ministers launched two new equity markets indices at the end of September in a step towards greater integration. The FTSE/Asean index and the FTSE/Asean 40 will help brand Asean as an asset class.

The former has 180 constituents and will act as a benchmark for Asean performance. The latter is a tradeable index suitable for institutional and retail funds, exchange traded funds and derivatives contracts. These are the first internationally recognized indices that have been created for the Asean equity markets as a regional grouping. “The idea is to get Asean back on investors’ radar screens,” says Lim.

The minister says that the ultimate goal is to achieve an Asean economic community by 2020.

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