MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Manulife Investment Management and Trust Corporation (Manulife IM Philippines) recently launched the Manulife ASEAN Equity Feeder Fund, a first-of-its kind unit investment trust fund (UITF) that invests at least 70% of its net assets in equity-related securities of listed companies with significant economic exposure to the ASEAN region. The Fund gives investors access to investment opportunities in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, for as little as PH₱ 1,000 or US$ 100.
“Through the Manulife ASEAN Equity Feeder Fund, we’re bringing to investors easy access to ASEAN’s robust growth potential, driven by its growing working population, the digitalization of its resilient economy, and its evolving tourism story,” said Aira Gaspar, President and CEO, Manulife IM Philippines. “Collectively, ASEAN is the fifth largest economy in the world with combined GDP of over US$3 trillion. Its abundant and growing human capital of over 600 million people provides a strong pillar of support to its economic growth, particularly given the promising opportunities from the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and digital transformation,” she added.
RCEP is a recent free trade agreement between ASEAN and five key partners (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and Korea). With the RCEP and the strategy of many global brands and manufacturers to diversify their supply chain, the ASEAN region is poised to attract more foreign direct investments, supporting more inclusive and sustainable economic growth. According to data by the World Bank,1 RCEP would cover 2.3 billion people or 30% of the world’s population, contribute US$ 25.8 trillion or about 30% of global GDP, account for US$ 12.7 trillion or over a quarter of global trade in goods and services, and 31% of global foreign direct investment inflows.
Digitalization is also taking off in ASEAN with the gross merchandise value of sales from digital products and services from e-commerce, travel, food, transport and online media almost doubling from US$102 billion in 2019 to US$194 billion in 2022 based on the e-Conomy SEA 2022 report of Bain & Company. Alongside this, ASEAN has significant investment needs for 5G infrastructure to upgrade telecommunication facilities, networks, and equipment.2
“The massive growth opportunity in ASEAN is boosted by its continued progress in digitalization, banking on the region’s young, mobile-enabled population. Additionally, the tourism sector provides an attractive structural story in the form of medical tourism—as we believe there is sizable demand in healthcare, while supply may not be sufficient to meet this particular demand,” said Gaspar. “Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia had become major players in medical travel, driving inbound travel to ASEAN for their competitive rates, top-of-the-line medical care, technological advancement, and renowned medical expertise.”
The Manulife ASEAN Equity Feeder Fund is the newest among Manulife IM Philippines’ distinctive suite of UITFs, many of which are first in the market. Its strategy utilizes on-the-ground resources to uncover inefficiencies between company fundamentals and market perception. “Our equity UITFs are suitable for aggressive investors looking to capture the long-term capital growth potential of professionally selected companies across the world,” Gaspar added.
Interested investors may open a UITF account online through Manulife iFUNDS, a secure digital investment platform that makes it easy and convenient for investors to manage their UITF investments or contact a Manulife Wealth Specialist or visit manulifeim.com.ph for more details.
1 Source: https://asean.org/rcep-agreement-enters-into-force/
2 Source: https://www.bain.com/insights/e-conomy-sea-2022/#:~:text=Approaching%20%24200B%20in%20rough,value%20(GMV)%20in%202022.