China, Southeast Asia regarded most attractive to investors: poll


The Asian Financial Forum was held in Hong Kong, south China, Jan.14, 2013. Xinhua/Wang Pun Keung.

Almost 50 percent of respondents went for China at a poll conducted in Hong Kong on which region that would give the best return on investment.

About 30 percent chose Southeast Asia, according to the poll at the Asian Financial Forum which opened on January 14 in Hong Kong. The United States got 10 percent votes and India 7.6 percent. The lowest vote was for Western Europe, about 3 percent.

Explaining the results of the poll, Paul Manduca, chairman of Prudential plc, a multinational life insurance and financial service company, said economic growth gives confidence to investors, citing forecasts of the Organization for Economy Cooperation and Development.

According to the organization, the Asian economy will be above 5.5% in growth for the next five years and by 2030 Asia is expected to achieve 64% share of the global economy as opposed to the 30% today.

Manduca also told the audience at the forum that between 1960 and 2010, China produced the same GDP growth rate as the United States did between 1820 and 1940. “That shows China’s economic potential cannot be compared to any country around the world, he said.

Liang Xinjun, vice chairman and CEO of Fosun Group, a large-scale investment group based on the Chinese mainland, agreed that China would remain to be the fastest growing economy. Driven by the needs of the middle class, he said, China’s consumer market is expected to boom with a growth rate of about 14% in the next 5-10 years.

But Liang pointed out that the big aging population and unsustainable development in ecology and commercial reputation would encumber the accelerating growth in China.

In another poll at the forum, participants were asked to choose from among five Southeast Asian destinations if they had US$100 million to invest in companies. More than 40 percent chose Indonesia.

Indonesia is now the world’s 15th biggest economy. In the past two years, it has kept a growth rate of 6 plus of GDP, and McKinsey & Co, a global management consulting firm, predicted that it would beat U.K. and Germany in 2030 and become the 7th biggest economy.

Frederik Ferdinand Seegers, CEO of Indonesia-based CT Corp told the forum that the 21st century will witness a peaceful rise of Indonesia after its turmoil, and now the stable development and democratic political environment in Indonesia attracted more investors and customers. He was quite optimistic about the vibrant market economy of Indonesia.

Myanmar should not be neglected

“Myanmar is a blessed country with abundant nature resources but used to be neglected by the world, said Serge Pun, a Myanmar national and Chairman of Yoma Strategic Holdings Ltd. He believed the rich resources such as minerals in the ground and gases in the sea was a great potential for investment.

Pun said that Myanmar has been undergoing a political reform over the past two years and achieved a big success. The new legislation about finance, media, labor force and anticorruption was on the way. He insisted that although the speed of economic development may be comparatively slow, the economy of Myanmar was sustainable since it would not meet some political problems as other developing countries would in the future.

But he warned that education or the soft power was a barrier Myanmar would encounter. “The backwardness of infrastructure can be solved in a short time, but the education is a long-term problem, he said.

Japan was not mentioned in either of the polls. Liang believed it was dangerous to invest in Japan. “The QE in Japan is not as successful as its counterpart in U.S, the investors should be prudent, he said.