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 Maybank Sees Opportunities in Thailand As Gateway To The Greater Mekong Subregion

June 15, Bangkok – Maybank, ASEAN’s fourth largest bank by assets, said at the Invest ASEAN Thailand conference today, that it views Thailand as a bright spot for investment as it stands to benefit substantially from further growth in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS).

John Chong, CEO of the Maybank Kim Eng Group said in his opening speech that recent developments in the GMS including improved cross-border trade, investment and labour mobility have helped boost economic activity. He said, “GMS is growing rapidly. As the frontrunner, Thailand is already seeing its investments bear fruit and this will continue to drive the country’s growth.”

In 2014, Thailand’s combined exports to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) hit US$21 billion, translating to a 13.7% annual growth since 2010. Thailand has also been increasing its investment in the region. In 2014, net Thai Foreign Direct Investment (or FDI) into CLMV reached US$7 billion, an average annual growth of 33% since 2007. And the trend is expected to accelerate. China, India and other countries in the region are also starting to look at the GMS as the next destination for trade and investments. The level of interest has intensified after the opening of Myanmar’s economy.

To further unleash the GMS’ untold potential, last year, leaders of the economies endorsed another five-year plan worth US$30 billion to develop the subregion. The bulk of this investment is to improve connectivity and facilitate movement of goods and services. One major project in the subregion is a US$13 billion railway project to give intra-regional trade a boost by linking economic hubs in ASEAN and the GMS, including Thailand, China, Singapore and Malaysia. This project will bring tangible benefits to Thailand by linking internal hubs within the country and improving gateways to cross-border trade.

John Chong added, “Many Thai companies including some showcased in Invest ASEAN Thailand today, have been in CLMV for some time. The growth in the subregion as well as the population’s rising income will augur well for these companies. For ASEAN companies that wish to explore these opportunities, Thailand can serve as a springboard to invest into the GMS.”

To uncover investment opportunities in ASEAN, Maybank is holding a series of Invest ASEAN conferences across the region this year. The series kicked off with the Cap 10: ASEAN CEO Summit in Kuala Lumpur in February, followed by Singapore in March, Vietnam in May and today in Thailand.

Invest ASEAN Thailand, themed “Thailand: The Gateway to GMS” was held at the Anantara Siam Hotel in Bangkok. The event attracted about 400 attendees with representatives from 8 countries. A total of 30 corporates from the region (21 from Thailand, 4 from Malaysia, 2 from the Philippines, 1 from Singapore and 2 from Vietnam) with total market capitalisation of US$108 billion and 50 funds across Asia totaling US$4.2 trillion in Assets Under Management participated in the conference.

The next Invest ASEAN conferences will be held in the Philippines, Malaysia, and finally in Indonesia. All the conferences will focus on ASEAN opportunities, while tailoring specific investment themes to each country.

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