The role of Asian markets in the global economy has grown significantly in recent years, and we expect this trend to continue in the future. Many of these countries have also made fundamental improvements to their economies, and we think these changes are here to stay. This year could prove a pivotal one for a number of countries in Asia, as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had set ambitious plans for a new ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) to come to fruition in 2015. Discussions among ASEAN members in preparation for the AEC are still ongoing and while the fine points are still being worked out, we are enthusiastic to see the outcome. Founded in 1967 to foster regional cooperation and promote peace, ASEAN is a strong regional economy made up of 10 members: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR (Laos), Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The 10 individual ASEAN members already have attractive characteristics for investors, including favorable demographic profiles, abundant natural resources and low-cost labor, among other factors.