Malaysia, Japan to boost digital economy pact

Digital technologies are creating a borderless world market in which industrial processes will soon become obsolete, says Dr Mahathir


MALAYSIA and Japan will explore ways to introduce specific measures to promote technological renovation and innovation within the region, while working together to develop a concrete strategy in cultivating highly-skilled human resources to provide an edge over other nations.

Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) said Malaysia hopes for more and closer cooperation in terms of digital economy with Japan in the future, as Japan has a lead position in smart manufacturing and innovative technological processes.

“While the Japanese companies operating in Malaysia have absorbed some of these developments, by and large, the adoption by Malaysian companies is still very slow. This is an area for Malaysia to rely on Japan’s expertise and proven track record,” he said in his keynote address at the 37th MAJECA-JAMECA joint conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The Malaysia-Japan Economic Association (MAJECA) and the Japan-Malaysia Economic Association (JAMECA) are essentially private sector institutions which originated from the call of the governments of both Malaysia and Japan for greater interaction between the two nations.

This year’s conference is structured on the theme of expanding trade and investments between Malaysia and Japan through the adoption of innovative technologies including digital technologies.

Dr Mahathir said digital technologies are undeniably disrupting the way of life and business, creating a borderless world market in which industrial processes will soon become obsolete.

“Unless we innovate and automate, we will not be competitive in these challenging market systems. Therefore, Malaysia needs to restructure the country’s business and industrial ecosystems to meet the needs of the future with the adoption and application of digital and innovative technologies, coupled with effective management and high value-added skills of our talents.

“We need to look at new sectors to boost our growth. This is a window of opportunity for us to improve partnership between our countries. Malaysia also works closely with our neighbouring countries to promote regional development,” he said.

Dr Mahathir added that he hopes more Malaysians would work with Japanese personnel in Japan, as he has always placed great value on learning from Japanese work ethics.

“Investing in Malaysia will also help Japan to expand its market into the Asean region. We put high hopes on investment from Japan into high-tech fields and areas which can contribute to developing the manufacturing sector, as well as cultivation of human resources,” he said.

According to the PM, Japan has become among the largest investors in Malaysia following the formation of MAJECA and JAMECA, which has in turn contributed greatly towards making Malaysia a leading electrical and electronics goods exporter.

The fact that there are over 1,500 Japanese firms operating here is testimony to the success of the collaboration between the two countries, he added.

“However, global trends in trade and industrialisation are changing rapidly. Malaysia’s competitiveness in terms of earlier strategic advantages needs reassessment. Coupled with the fact that there is an emphasis on the various aspects of digital economy and the impact of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), there is a dire need to review past successes for us to devise future strategies,” Dr Mahathir said.

Since the launching of the Malaysian blueprint for Industry Forward (Industry4WRD) on Oct 31 last year, the government has committed RM210 million from 2019 to 2021 to support the transition and migration to IR4.0.

Under the Industry4WRD fund, targeted efforts will be rolled out for human capital development, technology adoption and infrastructure upgrades, which will be the foundation of driving IR4.0 in the country.

In the context of e-commerce, the establishment of the National e-Commerce Council in December 2015 has accelerated the country’s e-commerce development and growth, including the formation of the Digital Free Trade Zone which will empower local entrepreneurs to export to global markets.