By Jayant Rikhye, HSBC

To the list of emerging Asia’s economic powerhouses, add one more: South East Asia and its 625 million inhabitants.

Spanning countries as diverse as Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore, the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) is often considered an “also-ran” that gets far less attention than China and India.

To underestimate the region, however, would be a mistake. Read more

“When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time”, US Army officer and Vietnam veteran Creighton Abrams once said.

In his new book, The Rise of the New East, Ben Simpfendorfer does just that. His elephant is “The East”, the group of almost 50 emerging markets ranging from Turkey to China that is home to well over half of the world population.

Simpfendorfer gives his topic a thorough treatment. While his insights seem logical and intuitive, taken together they give an impressive oversight of into key trends shaping the region. beyondbrics noted five insights that particularly stood out. Read more

With so much uncertainty permeating the financial markets, not least emerging markets, it’s heartening to see a big, solid multinational making a big, solid €10bn bet on EM growth.

On Tuesday, German chemicals group BASF announced plans to double annual sales in the Asia-Pacific region to €25bn by 2020, including €2bn to come from new businesses and acquisitions.In a decisive shift away from Germany-centred thinking, it will raise local content from around 60 per cent now to 75 per cent, and base 25 per cent of research and development in the region. Read more

It looks like Laos, China’s tiny landlocked southern neighbour, is about to find out whether sharing a border with China is a good thing. Laos has two things China needs – natural resources such as potash and hydropower, and access to Thailand’s large and growing consumer market.

Perhaps that is why China is so keen to provide a $7.2bn loan to the small communist country for a long-awaited controversial high-speed rail project between the two. Read more

Communist Laos has taken a further step from obscurity into a globalised world with plans for its first ever international bond issue.

The Bt1.5bn ($49.2m) issue will be in Thai baht – as a result of a key change in Thailand’s bond issuance regulations, which says more about Thailand’s ambition to be seen as a regional power than about Laos’s fledging pseudo-capitalist economy. Read more

For months, residents in an affluent part of Pattaya, a seaside resort town near Bangkok, assumed that the three foreign men who lived in a nearby luxury villa ran an import-export business, because, as one resident told local media, people “who looked like businessmen” came and went throughout the day.

It was not the sort of export-import the locals envisaged, as they learned when the villa became the target of one of Thailand’s biggest-ever drug busts in late November. Read more

By Jake Maxwell Watts and Nguyen Phuong Linh

As construction starts on a controversial hydropower project in Laos, it becomes clearer by the day that this poor and underdeveloped country is likely to place its ambition to be the “battery of south-east Asia” above any cost to the environment – and that price will be considerable. Read more

By Gwen Robinson and Jake Maxwell Watts

Its fledgling – and tiny – stock market may only have two companies listed, the population barely amounts to 6.5m and the economy is invariably described as “sleepy”. But Laos is poised to realise a 15-year effort to join the World Trade Organisation, amid robust economic growth of 8 to 9 per cent annually over the last few years and a surge in exports and importsRead more

Laos-listed stocks have only existed for just over 24 hours – but already they have a high-profile fan: none other than emerging market guru Mark Mobius.

Laos has a lot of things going for it – proximity to big emerging markets like Vietnam, Thailand, and China; rich natural resources; huge hydro-power potential; and – would you believe it – Asean’s fastest growing economy. Read more

It’s not quite Wall Street, but traders clocking off after their first day at the office on Dongphosy-Dongdok 450 Years Road in Vientiane have much cause to stop off for a celebratory pint of Beer Lao at one of the city’s many fine drinking holes.

Investors who snapped up shares listed on the newest bourse in south east Asia’s smallest economy have been thoroughly rewarded for their pluckiness – if the results of the first day of trading in Lao shares is anything to go by. Read more

Communist Laos will dip its toes into capitalist shores, when it launches the world’s newest bourse in Vientiane on Tuesday.

The exchange starts with just two state-owned stocks on the board: EDL Generation, which is controlled by the state-owned power company Electricite du Laos, and Banque Pour Le Commerce Exterieur Lao (BCEL), a state-owned bank. Read more