As Southeast Asia continues to follow the example of Europe by integrating its economies, the plan to link the stock exchanges of Vietnam with those of its neighbors later this year is facing some new hurdles — mostly technical and regulatory problems.
The ASEAN nations aim to become a singular (and powerful) 10-nation economic community by 2015. The public equity markets of Singapore and Malaysia are to be linked in June, followed later by Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and Vietnam — creating an aggregate market capitalization of $2 trillion and allowing investors to trade shares in any of the participating markets while settling the transactions at home.
Ultimately, the ASEAN stock markets are to be connected to those in Europe and the U.S. But technological and regulatory challenges appear to be slowing down the process as investors elsewhere are finding out that the region, like Europe, is anything but monolithic: Because Southeast Asia has diverse business and investment cultures, economic integration will need to take place step by step.