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Sarawak secures RM15.7 bln in investments amid pandemic

Caring for people’s health during the Covid-19 pandemic while managing the economy and maintaining the political stability of the state is not an easy task.

Yet, against all odds, Sarawak managed to secure RM15.7 billion worth of domestic and foreign direct investments, with some of the discussions being held only virtually.

Amid the pandemic, some of the potential investors had also been willing to come to the state and undergo a two-week quarantine to seek certainty and make a prompt decision about their plans.

It was at a time like that the Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Sarawak trade and industry officials had to answer all their questions and entertain the investors outside their working hours and even during weekends.

In an exclusive interview with Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama) journalists Hamdan Ismail and Diah Mohd Jaiz here recently, Awang Tengah, who is also Sarawak Minister for International Trade and Industry, Industrial Terminal and Entrepreneur Development, shares the state’s recipe for success and future plans to enable Sarawak to achieve the status of a high income and developed state by 2030.

While detailing the challenges and hard work undertaken by the state government, the Deputy Chief Minister remains optimistic that all the efforts will benefit the people from all walks of life and that they will be able to enjoy better socio-economic development in the future.

Following are the questions and answers recorded in the special interview:

Bernama: Amid the Covid-19 and against all odds, Sarawak has managed to lure investors to revive its economy as evidenced in the RM15.7 billion direct investments secured over the past two years. What are the initiatives and strategies implemented by the state government in ensuring that Sarawak continues to be one of the country’s top magnets, especially for foreign investors?

Awang Tengah: Yes, having to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic for almost two years is indeed difficult for us all, and it affects our economy and our people at all levels.

We are grateful that even during these challenging times, there are some investors who are still keen on investing in Sarawak even without meeting us face to face. We can only meet virtually. Over the past two years, we have secured a total of RM15.7 billion in investments and Sarawak has continued to be the main investment destination in Malaysia.

This was made possible by the policies set in place by Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud (now Yang Dipertua Negeri) when he was the Chief Minister, and then continued by his successor the late Tok Nan (Datuk Seri Adenan Satem) and now by Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, according to the situation.

The existing policy (on investment), a business-friendly policy, is one of the policies that attract investors, and in this case and apart from the incentives from the Federal Government, we, the state government, also provide our own incentives especially in terms of very competitive electricity and water tariff, land premium and even a rebate if the investor is able to complete the project within the stipulated time period.

We have succeeded in that area, but more needs to be improved in terms of facilities in the industrial estate. This is important for the investors. We are very fortunate in terms of our very strategic location, only six hours to China by flight, and we are upgrading our road connectivity, our sea connectivity (ports), and air connectivity (airports). We upgrade it from time to time and our telecommunication systems are being further improved in a bid to move to Industry 4.0 and towards a digital economy.

We have forged cooperation with many parties, especially business entities in Sarawak who constantly provide us with input on what areas should be given priority. They also have their own networks with their counterparts from several other countries. At the same time, we have our civil servants and government officials who are so efficient.

I would like to explain that sometimes these investors come here and they want to know how to invest, what are the terms and conditions to do so and they want to make a prompt decision. Sometimes when they are here, even outside office hours or on a weekend, I will call them and meet them.

Whatever is in our jurisdiction, we will decide there and then. To the investors, time is money. If my officers call them for a meeting on a weekend, they are ready. They truly appreciate that. We have been able to meet some of their needs especially in terms of manpower and we also discuss how many workers are needed for the field being ventured into.

We also plan and work with institutions of higher learning, technical colleges according to the needs of the industries. Alhamdulillah, so far, by providing a good business ecosystem, they want to invest here and because of that Sarawak has become an investment destination either mainly from FDI (foreign direct investment) and also DDI (domestic direct investment) in Malaysia.

We are not only competing with other countries, but also with other states in Malaysia. This is healthy competition.

Bernama: On investments in the industrial sector, are there investors who are keen on starting a new industry in Sarawak and if there are, when will the development of the new industry begin?

Awang Tengah: The Sarawak Government, through the post-Covid-19 development strategy has set six economic sectors to be given emphasis, namely manufacturing, agriculture, commercial, tourism, forestry, communications, and social services. These sectors will be strengthened with seven enablers – digital transformation, innovation, basic infrastructure, transportation, utilities, renewable energy as well as education and human capital development.

There are already investors who are showing interest in investing in new fields, especially in green energy, and also in the hydrogen industry. In fact, we have recently held a virtual meeting with investors from Australia who are interested in investing in the hydrogen industry. Last week, the Chief Minister and I had a virtual discussion with investors from Korea who incorporated several large companies such as Samsung, Posco, and Lotte Chemical. They are interested in investing in this field and the investment is quite huge.

In the oil and gas sector, we will accelerate the development of this industry both at the upstream and downstream levels. Emphasis will be given to downstream sectors such as the petrochemical industry. Some are already being implemented now and many more companies are also showing interest in investing in this sector especially in the petrochemical, downstream activities on the oil and gas.

In this regard, we have also appointed a consultant to formulate a master plan for the oil and gas industry, especially high-value downstream activities. involving the areas of Samalaju, Bintulu, Kidurong, Tanjung Manis, Lawas and Kuching.

In the timber sector, we are currently the largest producer of vernier plywood. We export this product especially to Japan, Korea and China and we will further develop the wood-based industries, especially towards high value-added products, as in furniture.

For the agricultural sector, several local and foreign companies have also shown keen interest in investing, especially those using the IoT (Internet of Things) platform. This is in line with the ruling Government’s efforts to develop this sector and the objective of making Sarawak a net exporter.

Bernama: The Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy or SCORE, which is now 13 years old, is sure to be a major investment focus area in Sarawak. Apart from SCORE, are there other areas in Sarawak that have been identified as new investment focus areas?

Awang Tengah: SCORE is a development corridor covering the central and northern parts of Sarawak and it attracts a lot of foreign direct investment (FDI). We have expanded the SCORE area and under RECODA, we have created three agencies – Upper Rajang Development Agency, High Land Development Agency, and Northern Region Development Agency. Why do we set it up? This is due to the fact the SCORE area is very large, so we set up an agency that will be able to focus on a specific area, taking into account the strengths in that particular area.

For sure we want to emphasise the development of infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water supply, electricity and telecommunications so that we can plan what (type of) development should be built. For example, in Hulu Rajang, there is the Hulu Rajang Development Agency. This is where Bakun Hydro and Murum, and also Baleh (which is under construction) are located. That is not only to give us enough electricity supply but the area can be developed as a resort.

It will be an attraction for ecotourism, and due to its vast area, it can be developed according to the suitability of a place, such as for commercial aquaculture. It has its own resources and uniqueness and has even been declared as a National Park. This is a strength for us to develop the tourism sector, especially ecotourism.

We have a lot of our own strengths. Samalaju is a vast industrial area, home to multinational corporations with a total investment that has now reached RM28.43 billion with an estimated annual spinoff of RM4 billion. To date, a total of 6,654 job opportunities have been created, and 68 per cent are local workers. All these investment activities recorded an export value of RM9.4 billion in 2020. Apart from SCORE, we will further expand Sama Jaya High-Tech Park in Kuching. This is a prime location for high-tech-based industries. Thus far, there are already several multinational companies operating, and it involves big investment.

It has been a successful investment at Sama Jaya High Tech Park with a total of 13,761 employees, and job opportunities were created with 99 per cent of them locals, including in management or upper levels. The total investment in Sama Jaya has now reached RM17.5 billion, with an annual spinoff of RM667 million. For 2020, the export value of Sama Jaya High Tech Park is RM6.93 billion. We will expand further, as several multinational companies are interested in investing in this area.

At the same time, we will set up Furniture Parks in Kuching and in Tanjung Manis. This is our way of attracting foreign and local investors to get involved in the production of high-value wood products. For now, there are already investors from China who are interested in investing in these parks.

We also provide venues for agricultural development, such as Food Basket in Betong, Sarikei and Mukah. We will develop Agro Park in several areas, such as Lubok Tamang, Asajaya and Sungai Baji in Sarikei. This is to attract investment in new fields or to further expand their investment. We also emphasise the development of industrial estates in small towns statewide.

At the very least, we must have one industrial estate in every division, not only for foreign and local investors, but it is also important to provide opportunities for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are something that is important for the economic development of the state and the country. We emphasise the development of Anjung Usahawan (entrepreneurs corridor) which is implemented in several divisions, districts, sub-districts and villages.

This concept allows individuals to engage in the processing sector, such as food processing, and at the same time, they can also promote their products. It is important for us to assist these SMEs, as they contribute significantly to the economic development of the state and the country. Hence, the ministries, together with other agencies, will continue to focus on providing premises and help them in terms of capacity building, capital, and promoting their products. The state government has also set up STATOS (Sarawak Trade and Tourism Office) in Singapore and the Sarawak Pavilion in Kuala Lumpur with the goal to help SMEs penetrate a wider market. InsyaAllah, we will set up similar offices in Brunei and Pontianak, Indonesia soon.

Another focus is the shipping industry. We plan to develop an area in Tanjung Manis and turn the Tanjung Manis Marine Engineering Park in Paloh, in the Mukah division, into shipbuilding, repair, and marine engineering industrial area. Of the country’s 100 shipyards, 60 of them are located in Sarawak, especially in Sibu and Miri. It has great potential, and currently, they have built ships for export to Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, and in Europe. This is an industry that has the potential to grow.

Bernama: Apart from being a preferred destination for investment in the country, another success achieved by the Sarawak government is in terms of diversifying revenue generation methods, and this is seen in the implementation of the state sales tax on petroleum products since 2019. How do you see the people of Sarawak have benefited from the implementation of the tax?

Awang Tengah: We implement the state sales tax for some petroleum products meant for export. It has increased Sarawak’s revenue. It is made based on the powers that we have, in line with the powers stipulated under the Sales Tax Ordinance. We are grateful to receive sales taxes of RM6.8 billion.

It is one of the ways of engineering revenue made by the Chief Minister, and this revenue allows us to implement more strategic projects to develop the state. It is important as it enables us to help people affected by Covid-19. Fortunately, we have this additional income, especially to help those in the B40 and M40 groups. There is also the business community, as well as enterprises that have been adversely affected. We know some have gone bankrupt and some have lost their jobs.

Apart from the initiatives launched by the federal government during the pandemic period, the state government has also launched the Sarawakku Sayang Special Assistance (BKSS) 1.0 to 7.0 packages, and on Oct 14, the Chief Minister announced BKSS 7.0+ involving an allocation of RM5.3 billion. InsyaAllah, through the Budget 2022, the Chief Minister has stated that we will launch BKSS 8.0 to help those affected, including SMEs, so that they can revive their businesses, as well as one-off cash assistance for B40, bachelors, newborns as well as mothers who have just given birth.

The state government also channelled an allocation to the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), amounting to RM97 million, for the purpose of managing the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bernama: Holistically, the Sarawak government, led by the Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS), has succeeded in pursuing the development agenda in Sarawak, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and uncertain economic growth. Since its inception in 2018, there may be a formula that serves as GPS’s recipe for success in governing Sarawak.

Awang Tengah: We are grateful, from Tun Abdul Taib to the late Tok Nan and now Abang Jo, Sarawak has maintained its political stability and has a stable government, a government that has a policy of not wanting to marginalise any party, a policy that wants to focus on efforts to develop Sarawak and improve the well-being of the people.

A solid foundation for us to continue to develop Sarawak is political stability, and the integrity of the government supported by the people. Secondly, we have a peaceful state and its people, although multiracial, and in terms of religion are also different, but we all live in harmony, united, and cooperate with each other. Our differences are not a problem for us in Sarawak, but a strength.

When we established Unifor (Unit for Other Religions) it was welcomed by all communities, including the Muslim community. For Muslims, we already have the Islamic Religious Council and the Islamic Religious Department. We set up Unifor to create a harmonious society, living together even though we are of different religious beliefs. This (move) is very much welcomed by our people. This we have to safeguard; political stability and the integrity of the government are very important.

If our situation is chaotic, we will not feel safe; this is important. In terms of investment, we will continue to improve the ecosystem and environment, which is conducive to investors. We plan, InsyaAllah, by next year to set up Sarawak Invest, to make it easier for interested investors to know what the investment conditions are and what incentives they can get.

For Malaysia and Sarawak to continue to progress, we have the desire to make Sarawak a developed state with high income by 2030. We need political stability and a strong government. We need to make sure that we are stable, and that the government has a vision of how to develop the state.

So, let us work closely together and strengthen unity to ensure political stability, and this government (GPS) will continue to strive to safeguard the interests of society in developing the state. At the same time, we will continue to fight for our rights which may have been deliberately or indeliberately eroded, as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).

We will continue to fight because these are the rights that should be returned to us. We are thankful that there is a venue to discuss this matter, with the Prime Minister resuming negotiations through the Special Council on MA63.

Several of our demands have been fulfilled, and whichever have not, we are committed to continuing with the negotiation to resolve the issues. We will continue doing this, not only for Sarawak but also for Malaysia, so that our beloved country will always move forward with a strong spirit of unity and solidarity.

Source: Bernama

Sarawak secures RM15.7 bln in investments amid pandemic

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The trade and investment mission (TIM) to Europe from Oct 13 to 21, 2021, led by Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali(pix) has yielded promising results, with the European investors making a strong commitment to invest a total of RM14.1 billion in Malaysia.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) said in a statement that the potential foreign direct investment (FDI) from Germany is RM10.7 billion while potential FDIs from France and the United Kingdom are RM2.6 billion and RM800 million respectively.

“Concurrently, an export value of Malaysian products worth RM400 million (RM50 million to Germany, RM300 million to France and RM50 million to the United Kingdom) is expected to materialise in the coming years,” MITI said.

The ministry said Malaysia’s economic transformation efforts particularly in driving the environment, social and governance (ESG) agenda are well received by the European business community.

The strong recognition of Malaysia’s renewed emphasis on sustainability agenda seen throughout this mission validated the sustained confidence of the European investors and importers towards Malaysia, as a favoured business destination and a strategic gateway for European businesses to venture further into Southeast Asia region and the larger Asia Pacific market.

Throughout the TIM, Mohamed Azmin comprehensively shared Malaysia’s vision in the sustainable agenda, notably the Malaysian target of achieving carbon net-zero greenhouse gas emissions earliest by 2050, as outlined in the 12th Malaysia Plan.

“On account of the various opportunities in Malaysia’s green technology and green mobility sectors as well as in other high-value industries, the European businesses and investors look forward to intensifying participation in those important areas that are among the key focus in Malaysia’s economic development aspirations,” it said.

During an engagement with the United Kingdom delegation, the ministry has also identified collaboration opportunities in the areas of Industry 4.0, renewable energy and sustainability, as well as leveraging Malaysia’s position in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) to further expand their footprint in the region.

Source: Bernama

European investors make strong commitment to invest RM14.1 bln in Malaysia: MITI

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The government is studying the mechanisms to implement taxation on digital economy businesses that have recorded billions of ringgit in profit in the country.

Deputy Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said the mechanism is being considered as there were many businesses in the digital economy that were found to be not paying taxes although recording billions of ringgit in profit.

“This requires a discussion between us – the Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM) – and the Finance Ministry.

“If tax can be collected, then it will be in a manner so as not to be burdensome. This is a responsibility we need to think about,” he said in a media conference after chairing a meeting regarding the organising of the 2021 Malaysian Family Esports International Challenge at Wisma TV Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) today.

Zahidi said the aim to impose tax required explaining so that Malaysians could understand the losses sustained by the government from the inability to collect such taxes to boost the country’s revenue.

On the organising of the 2021 Malaysian Family Esports International Challenge, Zahidi said they would hold the event at the end of December as a way to prepare a platform for youth to show off their talent.

In addition, the programme would showcase Malaysia’s potential as a creative industry hub, which would generate revenue for the country in the future.

He said the challenge was divided into two categories, under 18, and those 18 and above, and would emphasise on two games, Mobile Legends and PUBG.

“We have prepared 128 team slots for 15 eSports associations from each state to compete and we will invite teams from South East Asia (Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia) as well.

“The challenge will offer RM30,000 for first place, RM20,000 (second), RM10,000 (third) as well as 10 consolation prizes of RM5,000 each,” he added.

Source: Bernama

Gov’t studying best mechanism to implement digital economy tax

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The economic sector recovery strategies will be realised through Budget 2022 that has been formulated based on the country’s current scenario, said Finance Minister  Datuk Seri cc Abdul Aziz.

He said the country is now undergoing a recovery period from the Covid-19 pandemic which had almost paralysed the whole business ecosystem.

“Budget 2022 will mirror the government’s determination to revive the country’s economy, hence, restoring foreign investor confidence in making Malaysia as the main investment destination,” he said.

Budget 2022 will be tabled on October 29.

Tengku Zafrul gave the assurance that the government would continue with all assistance packages that had been announced to enable long-term recovery in the economic sector.

He said this in his speech at a ceremony to present acceptance letters for facilities to the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) under the SME Relief Programme of the National People’s Well-Being and Economic Recovery Package (PEMULIH) Phase 2.

“Budget 2022 will determine the continuity of policies and assistance to support businesses so that they are resilient in facing the crisis, besides safeguarding their livelihoods, wellbeing of the rakyat and business continuity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said the country’s recovery strategies contained in Budget 2022 would ensure that the SMEs involved in the tourism sector remained competitive and hence would increase their contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to her, the tourism sector GDP contributed 15.9 per cent or RM240.5 billion in 2019, however, it fell to 14.1 per cent or RM199.4 billion in 2020 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nancy meanwhile said some 337 out of 688 applications for tourism financing under the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) had been approved up to Sept 24, 2021, involving financing of RM66.9 million.

She said the financing facilities represented value add to the SME tourism sector to enable them to reopen their businesses after the government announced the approval to cross state borders effective Oct 11, 2021.

“The tourism sector has been deeply impacted since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, following travel restrictions and closure of international borders.

“Hence, various initiatives and stimulus packages were provided for entrepreneurs in this sector to enable them to stay afloat during the crisis,” she said.

Nancy said the government also agreed to provide exemption for tourism tax and services tax to hotel operators until the end of this year through PEMULIH, whereby RM2.34 billion in tax exemption value have been benefitted by accommodation premise operators.

Source: Bernama

Tengku Zafrul: Budget 2022 will contain Malaysia’s economic sector recovery strategies

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Malaysia’s ties with strategic partners such as the United States (US) and European Union (EU) have continued to strengthen despite the challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Dewan Negara was told today.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar said bilateral trade between Malaysia and the US increased by 27.1 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) to RM121.01 billion, while trade with the EU expanded by 26.66 per cent y-o-y to RM79.94 billion from January to July this year.

“The US and the EU are Malaysia’s third and fourth largest trading partners, respectively, after China and Singapore.

“In 2019, the value of bilateral trade between Malaysia and the US stood at RM165.22 billion, while bilateral trade with the EU was valued at RM159.35 billion,” he said during a question and answer session in the Dewan Negara today.

He said this in reply to a question from Senator Datuk Zaiedi Suhaili who wanted to know the outlook on the strategic and economic cooperation with the European economic bloc and the US.

Kamarudin said in line with the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), the focus would be on strategic and high-impact industries, including tourism, electrical and electronics (E&E), global services, aerospace, creative industries, halal industries, biomass industries and smart agriculture activities.

To strengthen the Malaysia-US Comprehensive Partnership, he said the ministry will increase cooperation in areas such as vaccine production and distribution (including Covid-19 vaccines), renewable energy, green economy, digital commerce, cybersecurity, health tourism, robotics, aerospace and sustainable development.

Other measures include inviting more US companies to relocate their business operations to Malaysia and exploring cooperation in the field of digital technology with the country at the Asean level.

At the same time, efforts have also been made to strengthen the strategic and economic cooperation with the EU, including the signing of a Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation, and the government is also contemplating the resumption of negotiations on the Malaysia-EU Free Trade Agreement, said Kamarudin.

“We will also enhance air and trade connectivity between the two regions, Asean and the EU.

“The measures also include promoting Malaysia as a strategic location for investment and tourism under the regional cooperation relationship at the Asem (Asia-Europe Meeting) level and to propose the recognition of the Covid-19 reciprocal Vaccination Certificate between Malaysia and the EU,” he said.

He added that the government remained committed to further strengthening Malaysia’s cooperative ties with the aforementioned countries, led by ministries such as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac).

“This is to ensure that the value of trade between Malaysia and the EU and the US as well as tourist arrivals from both countries continue to increase despite the ongoing Covid-19 crisis and the challenging economic situation,” he said.

To this end, Kamarudin said Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has embarked on a trade and investment mission involving three European countries, namely, Germany, France and the United Kingdom, which ends on Oct 22. 

Source: Bernama

Malaysia, US, EU ties strengthening despite Covid-19 challenges

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The latest trade and investment mission to France has successfully generated total potential investment of RM2.6 billion and RM300 million worth of potential exports, according to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

This validates the success of Malaysia’s continuous efforts in attracting quality investment and in enhancing participation of local companies in the high-value global supply chain, the ministry said.

“The strong interest shown by French companies garnered during the mission serves as a major catalyst in expanding the bilateral trade and investment relations, most notably in areas that support the sustainable and green agenda advocated by both nations,” it said in a statement here on Monday.

The mission to France, which took place from Oct 15-17, was led by MITI and Senior Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali. Among others, the Malaysian delegation also had a series of one-to-one sessions with French companies, notably Airbus, Saint-Gobain, Adisseo group, Prolaser and InnovaFeed.

During these sessions, the French enterprises showed great interest to continue making Malaysia their business partner in the aerospace, biotechnology, advanced chemical, medical device, halal product and the construction sectors, said the ministry.

According to the statement, Mohamed Azmin also had a bilateral meeting with Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness Franck Riester in Paris.

During the meeting, Mohamed Azmin highlighted opportunities in Malaysia’s growing green technology sector and Malaysian industry players’ capabilities in this high-value sector.

Both ministers had an engaging discussion on topics of mutual interest, including economic recovery strategies in the endemic phase, advancing reforms at the World Trade Organisation (WTO), leveraging Malaysia’s position in the mega Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, and investment and commercial opportunities in renewable energy.

The Malaysian delegation also commended France’s renewed interest in the Southeast Asian region, including Malaysia, and saw this new development as a pathway to further strengthen ties between both nations.

The delegation welcomed France’s growing interest in this region as the republic is set to assume the presidency of the Council of the European Union during the first half of 2022.

Mohamed Azmin also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) and Mouvement des Enterprises de France (MEDEF) International.

The strategic partnership between MIDA and MEDEF International would complement Malaysia’s National Investment Aspirations through expanded cooperation aiming to facilitate the nation’s industrial ecosystem with catalytic infrastructure and new technologies.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia’s trade mission to France generates RM2.6b potential investment

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The federal government is committed to providing at least 50% of the allocation for basic facilities in Terengganu for the implementation of high-impact projects in the state. 

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said this was to ensure continuity of projects and better access to basic infrastructure, amenities and services.

“A number of the extended projects will be continued including at Kemaman Hospital and Dungun Hospital, as well as flood-mitigation projects.

“Other matters raised by the Terengganu government were on developing the islands including electricity supply provision, agriculture and health facilities,” he told reporters after closing the engagement session with the Terengganu government on the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) here on Sunday.

Earlier, Mustapa had a hybrid engagement session on the 12MP with the state’s senior government officials at Wisma Darul Aman here. 

He said the government would continue with the polymer industrial park development project in Kerteh, Dungun; integrated river basin development project in Kemaman and rehabilitation of the river estuaries in Besut, Dungun and Setiu.

“The flood-mitigation project in the northern part of Kuala Terenganu, upgrading of the Chukai-Kemaman federal road, Simpang Pulai-Gua Musang-Kuala Berang road project and the development of rubber smallholdings will also continue,” he added.

Mustapa said the federal government’s initial development allocation for Terengganu this year was RM1.36 billion but the amount could not be fully spent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Asked on the allocation for Terengganu next year, he said the details would be in Budget 2022 to be tabled by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz on Oct 29.

Meanwhile, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar said the state government was thankful to the federal government for its commitment to solving the issues involving land and approvals by the local authorities that had caused project delays.

“We hope that things can be speeded up by reducing bureaucracy so as to achieve the project objectives for sustainable development,” he added.

Source: Bernama

High-impact projects to be developed in Terengganu under 12MP

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Standard Chartered plc (StanChart) said on Friday (Oct 15) Malaysia is showing good signs of economic recovery, helped by the country’s National Recovery Plan (NRP) which has been tasked to rejuvenate the local economy from the impact of Covid-19-driven movement restrictions under the various forms of the Movement Control Order (MCO) to curb the spread of the pandemic.

According to StanChart’s Asia chief executive officer Benjamin Hung, the crucial aspects of Malaysia’s economic growth are seen in the electronic, electric vehicle component, pharmaceutical and Islamic bond or sukuk markets.

Hung was speaking at a virtual media briefing on emerging business opportunities within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region.

Besides Malaysia, ASEAN members include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, according to ASEAN’s website.

At the media briefing, Hung said foreign direct investment (FDI) flow into ASEAN has gone up to about 14% of global FDI from around 12%, showing bright prospects for the region.

He said FDI flow is on the rise within ASEAN despite its near-term Covid-19 challenges, due to diversification of supply chain and rising consumption in the region, driven by the middle-class population.

“If you think about ASEAN as a bloc, China definitely is very keen to develop a closer set of ties (with ASEAN countries), given its intimate supply chain relationships with the region. The US is also very keen to develop ASEAN as an alternative, in terms of diversification in the supply chain.

“Likewise, European markets are also seeing ASEAN for that matter,” he said.

Hung said that among ASEAN countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have more than 50% of their gross domestic product (GDP) driven by household consumption.

According to him, the focus of FDI in the region is likely to involve the establishment of manufacturing operations particularly in the electronic, automotive and technology segments.

For 2021, Hung said the ASEAN bloc should be capable of achieving 6% GDP growth, compared with the global GDP growth forecast of about 3%.

“ASEAN (economic) growth will probably be showing a little bit of (a) challenging second quarter and third quarter (due to pandemic-led lockdowns), but for the full year (2021), it will still be a good technical rebound for (a) high single digit (GDP expansion),” he said.

Source: The Edge Markets

Malaysia showing good signs of economic recovery after pandemic-driven MCO — StanChart

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Seventy-one manufacturing projects involving China’s participation approved in 2020 are expected to generate more than 10,000 jobs in Malaysia, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Speaking at the virtual opening ceremony of the 130th China Import and Export Fair (Canton Fair), he said that since 2009, China had moved up to become Malaysia’s largest trading partner, accounting for 18.6% of total trade last year.

Malaysia’s export to China in the same year, he said, had expanded by 11.1%, comprising US$37.77bil (about RM160bil), adding that China was also Malaysia’s biggest import source, accounting for 21.5% of total imports.

“Similarly, China has become Malaysia’s top investor with investments amounting to US$4.41bil (about RM18bil) last year. This ranking has been maintained for the past five years.

“A total of 71 manufacturing projects with participation from China were approved in 2020 and are expected to generate more than 10,000 employment opportunities in Malaysia,” he said.

However, Ismail Sabri said while Malaysia-China investment and bilateral trade were growing steadily, there were still domains of untapped economic potential, including the digital economy and in the areas of sustainable development and the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0).

“To further accelerate our digital transformation, Malaysia launched the MyDigital initiative early this year. It serves as part of the government’s plans to escalate our country’s progress as a technologically advanced economy by 2030.

“This initiative will be implemented through the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint,” he said, adding that among others, MyDigital had set a target of attracting US$17.32bil (RM72bil) in both domestic and international digital investments.

On IR4.0, he said as Malaysia embarked on its journey towards greater digitalisation, more efforts would be implemented such as leveraging the synergy of the physical and digital worlds in order to elevate Malaysia’s competitiveness.

“For this reason, we have launched IR4.0, which is built upon a whole-of-nation approach through people- private-public partnerships.“This includes developing IR4.0-enabling infrastructures for wider application of technological use while adopting an agile regulatory approach.

“All of those are aimed at meeting the needs of businesses in the digital economy, as well as accelerating innovation and adaptation in technology,” he added.

Under the recently tabled 12th Malaysia Plan, sustainability of energy resources had been identified as one of the key factors in the dimension of economic empowerment, said Ismail Sabri.

“This dimension includes the people-centric economy, green technology, renewable energy and mitigation of climate change,” he added.

Such areas, he said, had already been the cornerstone of China’s trade and economic policies for many years, embodied in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China’s 14th Five-Year Plan.

“Being one of the first countries to support the BRI, Malaysia wishes to reaffirm our confidence that this strategic and forward-looking initiative will open up more frontiers of connectivity.

“We have a firm belief that this mutual understanding will create new possibilities for growth and development across the Asia Pacific, Africa, and Central and Eastern Europe,” he said.

He said in line with Malaysia’s Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, the country advocated the spirit of working together for a better future.

“We strongly believe that Malaysia’s aspiration will resonate well with China and Canton Fair participating countries,” he added.

Source: The Star

PM: New projects to generate over 10,000 jobs

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Malaysia will continue to target high-quality advanced technology-oriented investments in new growth areas that also focuses on long-term sustainability that is compatible with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals.

Senior Minister and the Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said new investments that are anchored upon these elements would propel growth in the technologically sophisticated sectors.

“As encapsulated in the 12th Malaysian Plan (12MP), particular emphasis is given to ESG elements as the new licence for business to operate, since there is increasingly no alternative with both consumers and investors demanding it.

“ESG will map how business can be a catalyst for addressing our climate crisis, and the challenges and opportunities that the climate change economy presents,” he said in a pre-recorded special address at the Invest Malaysia 2021 Virtual Series 1 on Thursday.

He said with Malaysia’s strong economic fundamentals, the government is confident in the prospect of sustainable recovery, equitable economic growth and shared prosperity.

“We are determined to achieve all this through collaboration, partnership and a spirit of optimism that envisions, not just Malaysia or the ASEAN but the whole world, heading together toward a brighter future,” he said.

Mohamed Azmin said the government would also continue to strengthen the country’s economic fundamentals through the implementation of open, transparent, and business-friendly trade and investment policies.

He said this included the ongoing efforts by the government to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (RCEP). 

“Like all the others the world over, our economy has been battered by the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Our Bursa (Malaysia) has gone through thick and thin but, as they say, we have taken the beating on the chin and, at final count, we remain standing. That is undoubtedly an achievement,” he said.

He said it is quite evident that investing in resilience is to invest for long term strategic gains in as much as the country wanted capital inflows that could promote economic growth.

“In this regard, we place top priority on both foreign direct investment (FDI) and direct domestic investment (DDI) as they clearly have a positive impact on growth,” said.

On the trade sector, he said total trade in August 2021 saw an upward trajectory, expanding 15.7% to RM169.8 billion with exports growing by 18.4% to reach RM95.6 billion.

“In the first half of 2021, FDI soared by 223.1% compared to the same period in 2020. Malaysia recorded RM107.5 billion of total approved FDI and DDI in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors, almost 70% higher compared to the same period last year,” he said.

He said these investments involved 2,110 projects and are expected to generate 45,000 job opportunities.

Mohamed Azmin said an increasing number of capital-intensive projects approved by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) would help create a wide spectrum of high-value and skilled employment opportunities.

“Malaysia continues to attract high value, high-tech investments through our pool of high-skilled talents and readiness in adopting advanced technology for value-added industries,” he added.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia continues to eye high-quality advanced tech-oriented investments, says Azmin Ali

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