The GCC countries and the Asean region are now the focus of global investment, it was stated yesterday at the ‘Inside Investor Asia Forum 2012’.

Developing countries are now the “engines of global growth” with the shift in the balance of power in the world economy, said al khaliji bank chairman and managing director Sheikh Hamad bin Faisal bin Thani al-Thani.

“Economic power has shifted eastwards – to the GCC region and Asean countries; we are the focus of global investment now,” Sheikh Hamad added.

In his keynote address at the opening session of the forum, Sheikh Hamad said the GCC Common Market is expected to become a $2tn economy by 2020.

Currently, it is approaching the $1tn mark.
“Likewise, the mission of our Asean friends to form a single market, the Asean Economic Community, by 2015, is inspiring,” he said.

Highlighting the strength of the GCC economies, Sheikh Hamad said the region’s recent enviable growth rates have gained world attention.

The GCC is not only seen as exporters of oil and gas, but as investment destinations with major infrastructure projects, he added.

Qatar has already announced major infrastructure projects worth $225bn, he said. Saudi Arabia has a $400bn, five-year public investment programme, while Kuwait and Oman have $107bn and $78bn worth development plans, respectively.

Sheikh Hamad said GCC investors have turned to Asia as European and US economic growth rates have slowed down.
“Asia accounts for about 40% trade with the GCC, which has seen a four-fold growth since 1980. This rate of growth is double that of GCC trade with the OECD countries,” he said.

Trade between the Asean and the GCC was valued at $83bn in 2010, up 25% on 2009. This continues to grow despite the global economic challenges.

Sheikh Hamad added the Asean region was in the spotlight as GCC countries now diversify their economies away from oil and gas through alternate investments, both onshore and offshore.

He also spoke on Qatari investments in the Asean region including Malaysian financial services industry, Singapore’s hospitality sector, farming projects in Thailand and Cambodia, tourism complexes in Myanmar and Laos and a planned mining project in the Philippines.

Qatar has also been involved in the development of petrochemical complexes in Indonesia, Vietnam and Brunei.
Sheikh Hamad said the Inside Investor Asia Forum 2012 would help enhance bilateral trade and network among prospective investors. –Pratap John/Chief Business Reporter,