Asia's corporate bond markets remain relatively underdeveloped compared to their Western peers, but a plan from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to "harmonize" the region's regulations could be a gamechanger.
"Right now, it's really hard for a Malaysian company to issue Thai baht bonds. Or a Philippine company (to issue) an Indonesian rupiah bond – partly because the rules are different and partly because they just don't know how to do it," noted Karen Lane, an external relations specialist at the ADB.
That's why the ADB is trying to standardize bond-issuance across the Asean plus-three region, which includes the eight Southeast Asian markets as well as Japan, South Korea and China.
Asia's bond markets have seen rapid growth since the global financial crisis, rising to 24.2 percent of Asian gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 from just 16.7 percent in 2008, Deutsche Bank said in a January note.