Malaysia is the top country in emerging Southeast Asia for foreign investment, according to the Milken Institute

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Malaysia ranks first in emerging Southeast Asia as the country with the greatest potential to attract foreign investors, according to the Milken Institute’s Global Opportunity Index 2022. This annual assessment, created to help inform global investment decisions of investors and policymakers, assesses an economy’s investment landscape using variables such as macroeconomic outlook, access to financial services, innovation potential and future development, etc.

The 2022 Global Opportunity Index includes a report focused on emerging Southeast Asia, a region where an influx of capital could drive greater innovation, job creation and competitiveness.

Emerging Southeast Asia performs well relative to other emerging and developing economies in three key areas: 1) having strong economic performance, 2) offering a highly skilled labor force, and 3) being firmly integrated into the global economy.

Malaysia, home to Asia’s third-largest bond market (after Japan and the Republic of Korea), has taken steps in recent years to ease restrictions and adopt policies to take advantage of changing trade , helping the country claim its top spot in this year’s index.

“In this year’s report, we identify several policies that will help emerging Southeast Asia stay competitive for investment opportunities,” said Claude Lopez, PhD, head of the research department at the Milken Institute. “Governments in the region need to strengthen their institutional frameworks, deepen regional integration to leverage each country’s unique resources and opportunities, and maximize social impact by leveraging global capital flows to advance development.

Key findings from the 2022 Global Opportunity Index include:

  • Sweden maintained its No. 1 rank from 2021 as the country with the greatest potential to attract foreign investment, followed by the UK at No. 2 and Denmark at No. 3. The United States fell from third place in 2021 to ninth place this year, mainly due to weak economic fundamentals and financial conditions.

  • Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia took the top spots in emerging Southeast Asia. Malaysia received the highest ranking in the region due to its strong performance in all categories measured. Vietnam and the Philippines round out the top five countries in emerging Southeast Asia, in that order.

  • New this year, the Global Opportunity Index has added seven environmental, social and governance (ESG) variables, including CO2 emissions and the proportion of women in government positions. These variables were included to reflect investors’ growing appetite for integrating ESG data into business decisions.

How the Global Opportunity Index rates countries:

To create the index, the Milken Institute assesses investment opportunities across 100 variables organized into five categories and 14 sub-categories. The five main categories included: business perception, financial services, international standards and policies, economic fundamentals and institutional frameworks. Variables within these categories measure all angles of a country’s investment potential, including economic openness and performance, trade constraints, and workforce talent and diversity. Data sources included the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, United Nations, Bank for International Settlements, and Global Health Data Exchange.

To learn more, download the full report here.

2022 Milken Institute Global Opportunities Index Results


1. Sweden

2. United Kingdom

3. Denmark

4. Finland

5. Netherlands


1. Malaysia

2. Thailand

3. Indonesia

4. Vietnam

5. Philippines

About the Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that helps people build meaningful lives in which they can experience health and well-being, pursue effective education and gainful employment, and access the resources needed to create ever-increasing opportunities for themselves and their wider communities. For more information, visit

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