Malaysia remains a business-friendly nation beyond US-China trade war

by SHAZNI ONG/ pic by BLOOMBERG

MALAYSIA will continue to remain a business-friendly nation and attract more foreign investors into the country even beyond the US-China trade war, said Deputy International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming.

“We will continue to make sure we have a good environment investment, and I am sure investment will continue to come in even beyond the six months,” Ong said after the Selangor Investment Seminar 2019 in Subang Jaya yesterday.

Citing Selangor as an example, Ong said in the first half of this year, the state recorded RM5.9 billion of total approved investments in the manufacturing sector, 90.3% higher compared to RM3.1 billion approved in the same period last year.

“Of this, RM3.8 billion were from foreign investments, representing 64% of Selangor’s total approved investments in the manufacturing sector for the period of January to June 2019,” he said.

Ong also said the presence of multinational corporations has also stimulated the development of local industries.

“Major foreign and large local corporations currently operating in Selangor include — Spirit AeroSystems Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Nestlé (M) Bhd, IKEA, Panasonic Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Hanhwa Q-Cells Malaysia Sdn Bhd, KL-Kepong Oleomas Sdn Bhd, Nippon Electric Glass (M) Sdn Bhd, Perodua Global Manufacturing Sdn Bhd, Proton Holdings Bhd, Top Glove Corp Bhd and Hartalega Holdings Bhd.

“With the established supply chain and ecosystem that have been created over the years, Selangor continues to be an attractive investment destination in the country,” he explained.

“Continued interest by investors has enabled Selangor to register a remarkable level of reinvestments by local and foreign companies. As at June 2019, 3,381 or 36.9% of Selangor’s manufacturing projects approved were in expansion or diversification activities,” he said.

Meanwhile, in his keynote address, Ong urged local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to stay abreast with technological changes in order to remain relevant in current business environment.

“To stay relevant, companies should be investing in three areas namely automation, skilled talent and upskilling, as well as innovation,” he said.

The seminar was organised by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) in collaboration with MITI and Invest Selangor Bhd.

Ong said the first response is to start making steps towards automation in order for businesses to deal with technological changes.

“Automation will help companies address the most pressing issues concerning businesses including productivity, labour cost, product quality, traceability and safety.

“With the launch of Industry4WRD, the National Policy on Industry 4.0 in October last year, we intend to use the readiness assessment which companies can sign up to help SMEs adopt smart manufacturing in a systematic and comprehensive manner,” he added.

The second crucial factor, Ong said, is to focus on skilled talent and upskilling, and he noted that this is indeed a critical enabler to drive and sustain Malaysia’s economic growth.

“The availability of a skilled workforce will support the transition of all economic sectors towards knowledge- intensive activities. Every year, the number of manufacturing projects approved by Mida continues to increase, and with it, there’s demand for skilled workers and professionals.

“Therefore, industry-led training for the development of local skilled workforce and industry-academia cooperation is required to ensure that the offerings are in line with the industry demand,” he said.

“Local companies are very much encouraged to intensify innovation through research and development activities to exploit new opportunities and bring local creative outputs to the market,” he said.