Global investors may be skeptical on investment into Southeast Asia, but emerging markets guru Mark Mobius told CNBC that he remains extremely bullish on the region.
"I'm still extremely optimistic on emerging Asia, especially Southeast Asia," the executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group said Friday. "First of all, you have incredible growth. Secondly, you have the rise of the middle-class consumer in places like Indonesia, and the Philippines. This provides incredible opportunities for retailers and people doing shopping malls for developers."
The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is set to average an over 5 percent growth rate this year, he notes, surpassing most regions, barring China.
The region has seen its real gross domestic product (GDP) increase ten-fold over the last five decades, which would make it the world's seventh-largest economy if it were a nation, according to a recent report from Deloitte.
Despite impressive growth, investor sentiment over the 10-member bloc is weak globally as it's perceived as more vulnerable to the U.S. interest rate hikes expected this year.
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"Slower growth, a strengthening U.S. dollar, and an uneven external funding environment should cap absolute returns in the Asean markets this year," warned Morgan Stanley in a note on Thursday.
"Seen against risks of persistently weak external demand, potentially tighter and more volatile financing conditions, and less favorable terms of trade, sustaining the recent growth performance in countries such as Indonesia and Thailand could prove difficult," the bank added.