InvestAsian Index 2017

Each year, the InvestAsian Index ranks fifteen countries in East and Southeast Asia. They’re judged based on their economic growth, openness to foreign investment, along with their ease of banking and doing business. The goal is to show our readers the best places to invest in Asia.

1. CAMBODIA

Investment Score: 64.6

Cambodia ranks at the top of 2017’s InvestAsian Index. Like other places in our index, Cambodia has seen robust economic growth. But the country’s openness to foreign property and business ownership, along with simple processes to open bank accounts and get long-term visas, helped it come out on top this year.

2. THE PHILIPPINES

Investment Score: 49.2

The Philippines has gotten a lot of bad publicity over the past few years – mostly political in nature. However, its economy is still among the strongest in Asia. The archipelago has stayed very open to foreigners too. Condo ownership is possible and anyone over the age of 35 can get an easy “retirement visa”.

3. MALAYSIA

Investment Score: 43.2

Malaysia has the lowest GDP growth of anywhere in the top five. Specifically, it’s averaged 5.1% since 2012. But it’s also one of few places in Asia where foreigners can buy and own land. In addition, the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program lets investors get a visa and live in the country with ease.

4. CHINA

Investment Score: 40.3

China’s growth rate is the highest among the top five – even ahead of our best country for 2017. It’s averaged 7.32% for the past 5 years, making any cries of a “slowdown” seem overdone. However, it remains difficult for foreigners to invest in China compared to elsewhere. Freehold property ownership is impossible.

5. VIETNAM

Investment Score: 38.6

Vietnam isn’t the fastest growing country in the region, nor the friendliest to foreign investment. It’s simply done better than most other places in Asia. Growth has averaged 5.9%, which is more than adequate for most investors. All land in Vietnam is owned by the state, but foreign businesses face only moderate challenges.

Investment Score: 38.2

Pros: Asia’s fastest growing country over the past five years. Foreigners can own businesses.

Cons: Getting long-term visas and opening bank accounts is difficult. Foreigners cannot own property.

Investment Score: 38.1

Pros: Strong growth. Foreigners can own businesses.

Cons: Getting long-term visas and opening bank accounts is difficult. Foreigners cannot own property.

Investment Score: 31.8

Pros: Strong growth. Foreigners can own businesses.

Cons: Getting long-term visas and opening bank accounts is difficult. Foreigners cannot own property.

Investment Score: 27.5

Pros: Foreigners can own property and businesses.

Cons: Banks are becoming more restrictive. Only moderate growth.

Investment Score: 26.2

Pros: Foreigners can own property and businesses. Nonresidents can open bank accounts.

Cons: Weak growth.

Investment Score: 21.7

Pros: Foreigners can own condos. Nonresidents can open bank accounts.

Cons: Foreigners cannot own the majority of a business. Only moderate growth.

Investment Score: 17.9

Pros: Foreigners can own property and businesses.

Cons: Weak growth. Banks are becoming more restrictive.

Investment Score: 17.6

Pros: Foreigners can own businesses. Practically speaking, foreigners can own property.

Cons: Weak growth. Banks are becoming more restrictive.

Investment Score: 0

Pros: Foreigners can own property and businesses.

Cons: Tepid growth. Restrictive banking and visa laws.

Investment Score: 0

Pros: None.

Cons: The only place on our index with negative growth over the past 5 years. Foreigners cannot own property.

Methodology

Each country’s average annual GDP growth over the past 5 years, as a percentage, is multiplied by 1,000. The result is a number with a maximum of 100 and a minimum of 0.

This number is further modified by four different qualitative measures. These measures are listed below.

Yes. (No Effect on Score)

No.  (Deduct 10% of Score)

 Yes. (No Effect on Score)

Yes, With Restrictions on Land. (Deduct 10% of Score)

No. (Deduct 20% of Score)

Yes, in Most Sectors. (No Effect on Score)

Yes, in Some Sectors. (Deduct 10% of Score)

No, or in Few Sectors. (Deduct 20% of Score)

Yes, With Little Effort/Cost. (No Effect on Score)

Yes, With Moderate Effort/Cost. (Deduct 5% of Score)

No, or With Much Effort/Cost. (Deduct 10% of Score)

Example: Malaysia’s five year annual GDP growth averaged 5.08% between 2012 and 2016.

5.08% x 1,000 = 50.8

50.8 – 0 – 0 – 2.54 – 5.08 = 43.2