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Devil in the detail in Singapore-Malaysia link

Cross-border exchange cooperation is back in focus in Asia – and at scale.


Malaysia prime minister Najib Razak

A new plan to link up trading between Singapore and Malaysia’s stock markets could be important. Attempts to forge links between Asean exchanges are nothing new, though rarely successful, but the success of links between Hong Kong and exchanges in mainland China has put the idea of cross-border cooperation and scale in southeast Asia back in focus.

Malaysia takes the new link sufficiently seriously that prime minister Najib Razak announced it in the opening session in early February of the World Capital Markets Symposium in Kuala Lumpur (taking the opportunity to have a dig at former PM and current rival Mahathir Mohamed as he did so: “Malaysia had a former leader who had a bad relationship with foreign countries, acted out of anger, unable to let go of old grievances...”) 

He spoke of a combined market capitalization of $1.2 trillion and 1,600 listed companies. It is easy to see the appeal of the link from his side, since Singapore will be bringing in two-thirds of the market cap.

The hope is that the success of one bilateral trading link will lead to others in the region and ultimately get Asean investors to invest in Asean rather than sending all their funds elsewhere in the world. 

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