Covid-19: US businesses in Malaysia adjusting, seizing opportunities
22 Jun 2020
United States-based companies in Malaysia have resumed operations and are adjusting to the— with a focus on mitigating the risks that emerged while driving efficiency and productivity.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), Siobhan M Das, said companies are taking necessary measures and are adjusting in the face of the new situation.
“Despite these challenges, and reflecting (on) the long-term nature of American investment in Malaysia post-Covid-19 recovery phase , the vast majority of our members are deploying their Business Continuity Plan and managing the operations to mitigate the risks as best as they can.
“Businesses were able to see clearly where strengths and weaknesses existed in their ecosystem, and many are busy managing not just the newly exposed risks but are also seizing the opportunities that sprouted from the pandemic and the shifts in business models,” she said in an email interview with Bernama.
She said that while most of the US businesses report financial losses due to the restrictions imposed, a Business Impact Survey conducted by AMCHAM in April also found that its members have been able to avoid laying-off of staff or implementation of mandatory unpaid leave during the movement control order (MCO).
Malaysia imposed the MCO on March 18 and embarked on a recovery phase on June 10 where most businesses and social activities are allowed to resume operations with strict standard operating procedures after having successfully put the outbreak under control.
Siobhan, who assumed the role of AMCHAM’s CEO in January this year, said the chamber will continue to be proactive and be at the forefront to support its members in navigating the Covid-19 crisis.
She said AMCHAM provided immediate and urgent support to its members during the MCO by ensuring they had the latest information and data from various authorities.
She said this had enabled members to adjust and be in compliance with government directives and requirements as quickly as possible.
“We will continue to support our members and be as proactive as we can to help a smooth transition into the recovery phase. A lot of the work is to support members navigate the guidelines and regulation and provide feedback to the government.
“Working closely with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti), we were also able to maintain Malaysia’s role in the global value chain by ensuring Malaysian companies were still able to operate at a minimum level and gradually increase capacity in accordance with the necessary guidelines,” she said.
She said AMCHAM — anticipating a second wave of the pandemic — is also working with Miti on the lessons learned over the past three months to be better prepared to keep people safe and businesses productive.
In another development, Siobhan also commended Malaysia’s decision to roll out the Short-Term Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana), saying that it is hoped to boost investors’ confidence in Malaysia as a key destination for high value-added foreign direct investments (FDIs).
“The actions Malaysia takes in its recovery will inform decision-makers at the regional and global levels and provide the necessary confidence for further investments into the country,” she added.
She noted, however, that Malaysia needs to work on strengthening the ecosystem — including talents and digital accessibility – in order to improve the country’s prospects, as the competition among the countries is rising.
“Businesses need an operating environment that they can rely upon to speed up investments and drive growth.
“Operating within global guidelines like those at the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) will provide opportunities for local SMEs (small and medium enterprises) to complete externally and become stronger partners to our members,” she said.
AMCHAM was founded in 1978 and comprises more than 1,000 members to date, representing about 270 American, Malaysian and other international companies with strong ties to US business.