In 2022, the economic outlook in Asia was more favorable than in Europe or North America. During COVID, many Asian companies revamped their operations to position themselves for success. Companies shored up their balance sheets, cultivated the right talent and developed an inflation management playbook. Despite preparations, the post-pandemic world has presented new challenges, including rising inflation, geopolitical uncertainty and market volatility, leaving investors uneasy.
To maintain the current momentum, fund managers will want to stay on top of current trends to strengthen their approach for the year ahead. Here are some trends we noticed that are shaping the future of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN):
1. Renewable Energy Markets
The ASEAN RE (Association of Southeast Asia Nations Renewable Energy) market is becoming more competitive and attractive for investing. This can be attributed to strong economic growth in some countries, active pursuit of sustainable development goals and private sector initiatives toward a low-carbon future.
The installation of renewable energy sources will gain momentum as the demand for clean energy solutions increases in the Asia-Pacific region. According to an article by Research and Markets, more than $48 billion will be invested in the renewable energy sector through the end of 2022.
2. Increasing market volatility due to inflation
One thing many need to be mindful of is the rise in inflation and market volatility. According to a report from CNBC, Singapore’s consumer price index rose 7% year-over-year, the highest in more than 14 years; India, Indonesia, and Vietnam are still seeing relatively good growth, while the economy has slowed in countries like South Korea.
Developing an inflation management strategy can help managers get ahead of the pack no matter how the market turns. Research by McKinsey found that the most resilient companies during times of financial crisis shared a common factor: they moved quickly.
3. Digital Transformation
The ASEAN region is the fastest-growing digital economy in Asia. It is expected that the region's investment and innovation in transformative technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual and augmented reality will accelerate in the coming year.
To prepare, businesses must ensure they embed the right technology throughout their processes and every area of operations while keeping a mindful eye on operational security.
Digital transformation is anticipated to garner $4 trillion in the consumer market in the coming years. To ensure they are a recipient of a portion of that $4 trillion, ASEAN member states will lead a project in collaboration with Bain & Company to develop digital technologies in the region.
Despite the current headwinds, the investment outlook for Asia appears favorable due to advancements in digital technologies, a focus on renewable energy markets and preparation to minimize the negative impacts of inflation.