The Asean Exchanges Trading Link is one of those projects that could prove a substantial success or a damp squib – it’s impossible to tell which at this stage. But at least it’s finally under way. Last week, the trading link between Malaysia and Singapore went live and Thailand should join in mid-October, linking together around 60-70% of Southeast Asia stocks through a cross-border trading system.
The idea behind an Asean link-up is very obvious and pretty sensible. Southeast Asia has some attractive opportunities, but suffers from most local stockmarkets being relatively small. Making it easier for individual investors to trade stocks in neighbouring countries could boost liquidity, cut costs and ultimately create a semi-unified Asean capital market with a higher international profile to compete with larger emerging markets such as China and India.