Singapore still top Asean investment pick for big four economies - US, China, Japan and India: Report

Marina Bay Financial Centre against backdrop of business district skyscrapers, on Sept 2, 2015.
Marina Bay Financial Centre against backdrop of business district skyscrapers, on Sept 2, 2015.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - Singapore is still the top Asean investment pick for four of the world's biggest economies - China, India, Japan, and the US - according to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

In its latest quarterly Economic Insight review, released on Tuesday (Sept 15), ICAEW said over 50 per cent of foreign investments from the Big Four are destined for Singapore. But this varies from 30 per cent of Japan's to 97 per cent of India's.

The ICAEW quarterly report focuses on the largest economies of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) - namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

The study also found that China's investment pattern looks different from the other three Big Four economies.

The world's second-largest economy has allocated substantial amounts of money to Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia; 11 per cent, 7 per cent and 8 per cent respectively. In comparison, each of the other three giants has less than 0.1 per cent of their investment stocks in these emerging nations. This enables China to acquire natural resources and gives its western reaches access to potential trade and shipment routes, rather than relying entirely on the eastern seaboard, said the report.

The report also noted that the competition for influence in the region between China and other major economies will benefit Asean with the unlocking of Chinese-led capital in the form of the China-Asean Investment Cooperation Fund (CAF) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The Japan-dominated Asian Development Bank (ADB) also recently announced a US$110 billion plan to invest in Asian infrastructure projects.

Said Scott Corfe, ICAEW economic adviser and Cebr associate director: "Asean is showing how, rather than harming themselves through competition, structurally similar economies can complement each other and create cross-border networks. Each country can specialise to its full extent, with supply chains spreading across East Asia - so raw material extraction, processing, parts manufacture and assembly are all taking place in different locations. This means that the maximum gains from trade are being realised."