Malaysia is ranked fourth among 13 leading investment destinations in Asia, according to the 2013 Asia Business Outlook Survey by the Economist Corporate Network, the emerging markets advisory business of The Economist Group.
The Survey covered 207 senior executives in various sectors including financial services, manufacturing, retail and healthcare.
These respondents were mainly from large corporations, 35% coming from multinational companies (MNCs) with revenues of US$10 billion or more while about 75% have over US$1 billion in global revenue.
Some 35% of the respondents have their global headquarters in North America and 41% in Europe.
Some 43% of the MNCs surveyed indicated interest to increase their investments in Malaysia in 2013.
The executives surveyed were generally optimistic about Asia with some 47% of them indicating that expectations for their businesses in the region have increased over the past one year compared with 15% indicating a decline.
With the higher growth expected in Asia compared with other parts of the world, the region is fast becoming more significant in the portfolio of operations at many global MNCs.
Asia's share of global revenue for some 170 non-Asian companies surveyed, with headquarters outside the region, increased to 22 % last year from 19% in 2011, expecting it to reach 32% in 2017.
Meanwhile, the survey noted that the global MNCs are not investing enough in the region to be in tune with the growth momentum in Asia.
Economist Corporate Network Director of Southeast Asia, Justin Wood said the message of under-investment is not getting across to the global HQs, as the latter have seen good rates of sales growth from Asia and believe they are doing enough in the region.
The survey, however, noted that more non-Asian companies are shifting management focus towards Asia, with 38% currently having a board member in the region, a two-fold increase from 2008 while over 50% of the firms now have at least one global business unit head in Asia.
Despite China being the top investment destination in Asia, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region has been drawing significant investment interests with some 45 % of respondents now having an Asean strategy.
Many respondents have also indicated that the Asean member countries are much easier places to do business than China and India.
Adapted from NST Business Tomes and Sun Daily, 8 Jan 2013 and the Asia Business Outlook Survey Report