With Change Comes Opportunity
05 Feb 2021
In a stirring speech to the nation, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. stamped his brand of leadership on the presidency in his first act as the 46th president of the United States of America.
It signalled several shifts. Perhaps the weather was foreboding with snow falling before the ceremony that was later bathed in brilliant sunshine – a hopeful metaphor of what promises to be a presidency at the confluence of multiple crises, both domestic and abroad.
The pageantry of procession that was inauguration day will be fast replaced by the stark reality that are the challenges faced by the nation. If only to understand Malaysia’s 5th largest investor and 3rd largest trading partner better, Malaysian companies need to understand the priorities of the current President of the United States.
While it’s unlikely that there will be immediate benefits to Malaysian business from the change in the White House, over the course of the next four years the strategic policy shifts and promises to stay the course on what has fast become the established US position should yield considerable opportunities.
Positive move for the environment
One such door that will be opening was unlocked when President Biden signed the executive order returning the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement. This return to the legally binding international treaty on climate change designed to reduce greenhouse cases will have a direct impact on US-based companies. It’s a positive move for the environment and at the same time a chance to participate in what will be a monumental change from now until 2030.
This rapid shift to a greener industrial model will set two trends in motion.
Firstly, the United States will generate demand for green technology, including the production of physical technologies that will be consumed in the United States. This will mean the creation of multiple global value chains with the United States as the end consumer. With some countries off the radar as a cost-effective manufacturing base it will allow Malaysia the opportunity to fill the breach. Not to mention that Malaysian-based innovative technology should find its way to the United States.
Secondly, it will mean that the United States itself will further strengthen its domestic green tech industry. History has shown us that the US corporate sector will look globally for growth and market share. Once international travel is again possible in a meaningful business development way, it will see US companies look to ASEAN and indeed Malaysia for expansion. It’s this second trend that Malaysia’s regionally focused players can look to partner.
Sustainable global conduct
Regardless of the president in the White House, Malaysian companies looking to take their place on the global stage must work towards achieving sustainable global conduct. Those in the global market need to play by the global rules, especially companies in critical supply chains, as competitors and interest groups are more than happy to highlight shortcomings.
COVID-19 and the process of change will ensure that it will take time for the wheels to turn. For those with the aspiration this is the time to gear up for the opportunity, to put in place the governance and standards that will allow corporations to step through the door that is now opening.
Welcome to President Biden and Vice President Kamala Devi Harris, there is much to achieve and a constant need to move forward. Looking at the future and to borrow from President Biden when he asked in his inaugural speech “Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world for our children?”
I believe we must and I believe we will.
Nordin Abdullah is Managing Director of Glenreagh Sdn Bhd and Founding Chairman of Malaysia Global Business Forum.