APRIL 22, 2019 @ 10:42AM
KUALA LUMPUR: A year has almost passed since last May’s watershed general election which saw a historic change, not only in government, but Malaysia’s entire political landscape which also steered the country’s economy in a different direction.
Malaysians are confident that, given time, with the new government in a new Malaysia, good governance will finally emerge.
For International Trade and Industry (MITI) Minister Datuk Darell Leiking, since taking office, it has been a road full of challenges.
“However, I can assure you that our economy is growing at a resilient pace,” he told Bernama in an exclusive interview.
He said the burden on his shoulders is huge as his ministry is solely responsible for attracting quality investors and foreign direct investments into the country, while assuring investors that Malaysia “is indeed the place to do business.”
“At MITI, we need to continue assuring investors that trade will continue as usual despite changes taking place in the administration,” he added.
Darrel admitted that over the year, he had faced setbacks, but that has not dented his spirit to do things better.
“In the process, we might have lost some investments, but also gained others in return. I believe we will hear more positive news going forward,” he said.
The minister said the challenges faced now are more multi-dimensional as it goes beyond simple trade and investment issues.
“Today, the obstacles include trade tensions between the United States and China, Britain’s possible “no-deal” withdrawal from the European Union, China’s economic slowdown, geopolitical tensions, as well as, the rising of protectionist measures,” he said.
To raise the bar, Darrel said his ministry had embarked on Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0), digitalisation, robotics, artificial intelligence, big data analytics, advancement of automation and the advent of other new technologies that would change lives and the way business is carried out.
“Automation, Artificial Intelligence and big data are the latest market attractions and we have introduced Industry4wrd, a nationwide blueprint on IR4.0 adaptation across all market segments,” he said.
As for investments, Darell is confident that despite slower global economic growth, Malaysia will remain a favourite business destination in the region, due to its strong fundamentals and known skilled labour force.
The conducive business environment in Malaysia has made the country one of the world’s top investment destinations for offshore manufacturing operations.
Malaysia, has to date, attracted more than 5,000 foreign companies from more than 40 countries to establish their operations in the country.
Many of them have also expanded and diversified their operations, reflecting the confidence in Malaysia as a location for their business ventures.
In 2018, Malaysia approved RM201.7 billion in investments compared with RM200.6 billion in 2017, with domestic direct investments contributing 60 per cent or RM121.2 billion of total investments, while foreign investors contributed the remaining 40 per cent.
Total investments approved between January and June 2018 stood at RM86.1 billion and another RM115.6 billion was approved in the second half of the year.
China, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Japan and the United States were the largest contributors in terms of investments in the manufacturing sector in 2018, which contributed 76.4 per cent or RM44.3 billion of the total foreign investments approved during the year.
For 2019, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority is targeting to record total approved investments of over RM200 billion.