Kicking off our monthly regional update column is a look at South East Asia. Having co-hosted the IFXEXPO in Macau, Forex Magnates witnessed attendees showing high levels of optimism in regards to the prospects of forex and trading in South East Asia. During 2012, the region experienced growing trading volumes along all asset classes with Singapore’s financial center leading the way. Also, in 2012 Non Deliverable Forwards (NDF) were a hot product in the region. Numerous financial firms including GFI Group, Bloomberg, and LCH Clearnet expanded their list of NDFs of the region’s currencies in response to increased demand from traders and businesses.
2013 In South East Asia
Looking towards 2013, Mario Singh Director of Training & Education at FXPRIMUS, whose firm is active in marketing its brokerage services in South East Asia, provided to us his thoughts on the region and was a panelist on the South East Asia Regional Panel at the IFXEXPO. He stated that areas of importance for 2013 include rising wages, regional economic growth, precious metal trading, and continuation of Myanmar economic and government reform.
In regards to rising wages, Singh said:
“Wage rates are set to go higher in 2013 as countries like Indonesia and Vietnam are increasing their minimum wage limits while Malaysia is set to introduce minimum wages for the first time. Although higher wages will dent the profitability of existing business and place a damper on foreign direct investments (FDI), with South East Asia showing considerable strengthening in private consumption, it should still be very attractive to foreign investors who have a long term view on the mounting prospects of abundant regional growth. “
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This should boost growth rates:
“With the IMF predicting a growth rate of 6.1% in 2013 for the South East Asia, this region will continue to be attractive to foreign investors and companies seeking to diversify out of their country of origin into a region where labour costs are still relatively cheap. This is despite a recent trend of rising wage rates experienced in many Asian countries in line with the increasing inflation.”
About interest in precious metal:
“There has been a steady trend in Asia when it comes to precious metal investing, namely gold and silver. The demand for the yellow metal and its less illustrious sister has been steadily rising with China leading the way in hoarding close to 1000 metric tons of sold. Recently Singapore abolished the goods and services tax on gold and silver purchases which may attract more investment interest in the metals from the locals as well as abroad. As Central Banks around the world continue monetary stimulus actions that gradually devalue their currencies, the demand for gold and silver will rise and Asia might provide a safe bastion for these investors to store their precious metals.”
And last, Singh discusses the potentials of Myanmar:
“The hot story for South East Asia now is undoubtedly Myanmar. The country has attracted considerable attention since its government decided to pursue economic reforms and sanctions begin to ease on the country. Foreign investors, not just companies but also countries, are eager to establish a foothold in Myanmar’s potentially untapped resources, both in the ground and the people. Take for example Japan, who is already heavily invested in Thailand, is now investing heavily in Myanmar as well. Japan is taking the lead in helping Myanmar overcome its economic problems by agreeing to waive off billions in debts and building up much needed infrastructure around the country. However, questions remain whether the Myanmar government is ready and capable to undertake such reforms under the sheer weight of foreign interests. Nonetheless, Myanmar offers huge potential, not only for its people but for countries around the region.”