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Capital Market
June 28, 2007

Strengthen capital market for ASEAN integration
A Singapore senior financial official Thursday urged the governments and the private sectors in the region to collaborate to accelerate ASEAN integration and capital market development.

Lim Hwee Hua, Singapore's Minister of State for Finance and Transport, suggested that the governments in the region must continue to encourage the adoption of international standards of disclosure and international accounting standards, as well as the harmonization of rules and regulations across Asia, so as to facilitate access and reduce costs for investors.

"Within this context, the private sector can play a significant role in shaping market activity based on the needs of each member country and the region," she said at a international conference organized by Citigroup discussing ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) securities market.

She also pointed out that while the governments need to play their part in shaping the investment and regulatory environment, complementary efforts by the private sector in developing the market and products are pivotal.

Her view is that Asian integration will be driven by a bottom up process, led primarily by the market, because unlike the case of the European Union, Asia does not have the same political imperative for economic or monetary union.

"Asia's strength lies in its diversity," she said.

She encouraged the public-private sectors to use the existing platforms such as the US-ASEAN Business Council annual lunch dialogue with the ASEAN finance ministers, to interact with the governments.

"These dialogues serve as conduits for the governments to consult with market participants. It helps us to better understand the market needs, as well as obtain feedback on the government initiatives that have been put in place," she added.

She cited Singapore story, saying "For the past decade or so, Singapore has been committed to the development of capital markets through various initiatives."

Singapore has been developing itself as a hub for innovative equity-linked products, including Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS), Business Trusts, derivatives and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).

Singapore currently has 16 listed REITs and five listed Business Trust with a total market capitalization of about 20 billion U.S. dollars, according to Lim. Xinhua

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