by NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK/ pic by BERNAMA
THE Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can be a win-win solution for the entire continent if implemented through sustainable development throughout the region via a transparent and fair mechanism.
Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said Malaysia is supportive of the Chinese initiative, having signed the BRI Communiqué in May 2017, and is also one of the founding members of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank.
“Any country with such a plan cannot ignore Malaysia, which sits in the heart of Asean and right in the middle of east-west trade,” he said at the Malaysia-China Belt and Road Economic Cooperation Forum in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Lim said the strong economic ties between the two countries are not only based on close social and political relations.
“Malaysia on its own is a highly competitive economy offering investors and especially manufacturers, with sophisticated and reliable manufacturing base backed by skilled, adaptable and multilingual workers, excellent infrastructure, strong rule of law and stable socio-political environment,” he said.
He added that beyond domestic considerations, Malaysia has easy access to the world’s major markets, including the US, Europe or even elsewhere.
“This is an important point in time when the global supply chain is being reoriented due to trade flows either in the Pacific driven by the US, or in the Atlantic driven by the UK.
“For China-based exporters affected by the trade war, Malaysia is clearly a base that you need. Malaysia sits in the middle of Asean, a region of 650 million people with a growing middle class,” he said.
In the first quarter of 2019, it recorded that RM4.4 billion came from China in approved manufacturing foreign direct investment (FDI), making it the second-biggest source during the quarter.
Across all Malaysian sectors, approved FDI grew by 73.4% to RM29.3 billion against the previous year’s RM16.9 billion, whereby the increase was powered by a 127% increase in manufacturing FDI.
The first half of 2019 also reported total goods trade between Malaysia and China valued at RM148.8 billion, 16.6% of total Malaysian external trade of RM895.9 billion.
Total Malaysian trade with China also hit RM313.8 billion last year, the highest in history, according to data compiled from the Department of Statistics Malaysia.
Subsequently, from January through May 2019, Malaysia recorded 1.34 million Chinese tourists, a 7.6% increase over the 1.24 million visitors posted in the same period last year.
Lim further said there are over 100 Chinese entrepreneurs attending the forum, which is a follow-up to the second Belt and Road forum held in Beijing in April this year.
“This demonstrates the strong trade ties between Malaysia and China. To the Chinese entrepreneurs already rooted here, I thank you for investing in Malaysia and special thanks to those who have set up their regional offices in Malaysia.
“We will continue to facilitate Chinese investment into Malaysia, particularly the high-tech industries and innovation-based services,” he said.
Lim credited Chinese technology firm Huawei Technologies Co Ltd for being the leader in 5G technology.
Huawei, he said, will be playing the role of aiding Malaysia to implement Industry 4.0 technology.
“We are encouraging our companies to digitalise and embrace new technologies in order to improve their competitiveness domestically and internationally,” he said.
These technologies cover an extensive range, including artificial intelligence, big data analytics, Internet of Things and cloud computing.