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China companies still keen to invest in Malaysia: MCCC official

China companies still keen to invest in Malaysia: MCCC official

13 Nov 2023

Chinese companies remain interested in investing in Malaysia due to encouraging trade relations under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Unity Government.

Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) domestic commercial affairs committee chairman Sean Lee said the premier’s visit to China earlier this year was a good move as it had strengthened the trade relationship between Malaysia and China.

Lee said most Chinese companies MCCC engaged with have expressed positive sentiments on Anwar’s visit to China and the country’s willingness to conduct high-level meetings with the Malaysian delegation, which was a good sign.

“China regards Malaysia as a valuable trading partner as the former is very selective with the foreign entities that it congregates with,” Lee told SunBiz.

He believes that there is pent-up interest and delayed investment into Malaysia, due to several Covid-related lockdowns in China last year that had prevented Chinese companies from entering into business talks with Malaysian companies.

Following the opening up of China’s economy as well as the visit, Lee said, there is a significant influx of Chinese companies that have shown interest to engage with Malaysian players for potential partnerships or expansion.

MCCC has received overwhelming visitation from China delegations including from government authorities, agencies, chambers and associations and enterprises.

“We have received more than 100 delegations from China, more than 1800 participants … we have hosted during the many dialogues and trade matching events, for the past few months since March. They keep on coming, every week, there are two or three delegations.

“They come to Malaysia to seek bilateral trade, business matching, investment opportunities, exchange information, expand networking and reunion. We concluded that they are serious to expand overseas and seek business opportunities after long lock down during the pandemic,” he added.

The chamber utilises its role as a bridge and platform to link both Malaysian and Chinese parties, in exploring business opportunities together.

“In order to materialise their investment and partnership, the government and private sectors should work more aggressively to attract the investment and trade businesses into Malaysia,” Lee remarked, adding that Malaysia is usually seen as a hub for Chinese companies to expand into Southeast Asia.

Recently, it had concluded its annual “Malaysia-China Entrepreneurs Convention 2023” in Hainan, China, attended by more than 500 participants.

Furthermore, MCCC noted that the government understands that China is the super global economy power house and Malaysia’s largest trading partner. Therefore, it foresees that Malaysia will continue to engage with China in order to leverage on the latter’s economic prowess.

“With the Belt and Road Initiative as well as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership’s economic, we see very positive and encouraging government movement to seek foreign direct investment from China, we seek to be more aggressive in closely monitoring, engaging and executing to materialise the outcome.

“We foresee the positive engagement between Malaysia and China and this will continue into next year and beyond, renminbi is slowly moving up as a prominent international currency due to geopolitical tensions to environmental risks,” Lee said.

Touching on challenges, he said Chinese companies have expressed unhappiness over the difficulty in obtaining working permits.

He explained that the issue has caused frustration among Chinese companies due to the long duration it took for the permits, particularly for skilled workers to be approved.

“They have already started investing and it is frustrating for them. Time is money and they want workers of their own nationality and workforce to be put in place in Malaysia,” he said.

He called on the government to address this issue soon by studying the human talents’ entrance into Malaysia and to speed up the approval process, in order to attract and retain the investment interest of the companies.

Lee pointed out that the issue has been brought up to the relevant ministries on several occasions when he represented MCCC, but the same issue prevails.

He shared that a number of skilled workers have expressed interest to stay in the country and to apply for permanent residency. Hence, he suggested the government should consider offering special visa programmes to retain the skilled workers, whose trained skills will be valuable to industries and boost economic growth.

“Maybe, we can come up with a special channel or special privilege visa to retain the foreign skilled workers or offer benefits under a visa programme,” he added.

The chamber commended the government’s efforts, particularly Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry as well as the Malaysian Investment Development Authority, towards coordinating and materialising FDI from China.

By encouraging more China tourists and business delegations visitation, through events such as the International Trade Exhibition and Conference, MCCC believes that it will contribute immensely towards the economic growth.

In addition, the chamber also suggested for the government to tap into China’s technological advancement and other areas.

“We should tap on China’s scientific technology and advancement, the fields include artificial intelligence (AI), big data, cloud computing, ecommerce, EV, electric batteries, advanced communications such as 5G, 6G and quantum communications satellite, renewable energy, new materials, and high-speed rail, … it will help our economy’s transition toward being innovation-oriented to power the economic growth,” it said.

In April, Malaysia secured a total of RM170.07 billion worth of committed investment from China, during the premier’s visit to the country. Furthermore, an additional RM2.44 billion worth of export potential for Malaysian products were secured.

Among the Chinese investments secured, were from GDS Services Ltd at RM4.5 billion for construction of a hyperscale data centre campus, LONGi company, at RM1.8 billion to increase production capacity for solar ingots, wafers, cells and modules in Selangor, as well as ZTE Corporation with collaboration with Telekom Malaysia Bhd at RM200 million to establish two research and development innovation centres in advancing 5G and supporting the latter’s digital transformation.

Furthermore, the collaboration between Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and DRB-Hicom with an estimated collective investment of RM32 billion, which involves the planning and construction of an Automotive High-Technology Valley in Tanjung Malim.

According to a recent statement by International Trade and Investment Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, there are six more projects totalling RM95.72 billion from China, which are expected to be finalised by the end of the year, with the potential to create 7,170 job opportunities. He added that there is one project with an expected investment of RM3.5 billion to be finalised in 2025.

Source: The Sun Daily