Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh,
Salam sejahtera dan salam 1Malaysia.
1. It is a pleasure to be with you all here today, and first of all let me express my sincere thanks to all of you for participating in today’s business luncheon.
2. Just spend a moment and look around in this ballroom; and you will see the movers and shapers of China and Malaysia in this hall. We have 173 Chinese companies, nearly 100 Malaysian companies, with a combined market capitalisation of more than USD 1.08 trillion.
3. On top of that, almost one third of the Malaysian Cabinet is here. 3 Chief Ministers, representatives of state governments, the Governor of our Central Bank and many senior government officials – and this bears witness of a very strong and robust, long-standing relationship between Malaysia and China.
4. The theme today is “Strengthening Cooperation, Building Opportunities”, and it is clear that Malaysia and China have been doing just that. China was Malaysia’s largest trading partner in 2015, as it has been since 2009.
5. Meanwhile Malaysia is China’s eighth largest trading partner worldwide, and we are the largest trading partner, the largest source of imports and the second largest export destination among ASEAN countries.
7. Even in these difficult times for the global economy, our partnership is strengthening. From January-June 2016, total trade with China increased by two percent compared with the same period in 2015, while by the end of last year China’s investments in Malaysia stood at USD 2 billion – and by the end of today’s luncheon the figure will go up quite considerably.
8. We welcome investment at all levels, and it is noticeable that China is involved in supporting some flagship projects that will play a huge role in Malaysia’s desire to transform itself into a high-income nation and even beyond.
9. One example is Powerchina International Group, which recently signed a Memorandum of Agreement with a Malaysian company, KAJ Development, for the construction of Melaka Gateway – a mega development project in the state of Malacca. We have also designated Malacca as an international airport. In fact the deep sea port, which is part of the project, was inaugurated only last year, and is expected to be completed by 2019.
10. Another is China Railway Group Limited, or CREC, which together with Iskandar Waterfront Holdings will be developing an integrated underground city which is expected to be the largest in the world known as Bandar Malaysia.
11. Other notable companies in the Malaysian services sectors include Country Garden in the state of Johor and Greenland Group in real estate, Xiamen University in education, the first public university in China that will open a branch overseas, and this is some of the exciting development and not to mention with two companies Huawei and ZTE Corp and these are the notable involvement and many others I believe will follow suit in the near future.
12. If we turn to the manufacturing sector, in the first eight months of 2016, Malaysia recorded a total of 20 approved manufacturing projects with China’s participation, with investments of RM 2.4 billion. This makes China as the second largest investor into Malaysia during this period.
13. We are also proud to host some of China’s giants, such as China National Machinery Import and Export Corporation; Alliance Steel; Sinohydro Corporation Ltd; Comtech Solar International; and many others.
14. And, the greater air connectivity we have today, with Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia now providing services to many Chinese cities, and with a charter flight service from Guangdong to Malacca International Airport starting last month, will only encourage the creation of new ties.
15. On the regional arena, we can see China leading on many fronts. Malaysia is also leading, not least in the ASEAN region – which collectively is already the seventh largest economy in the world, and is predicted to become the fourth largest by 2050 at the latest.
16. Over 1,500 Malaysian companies are operating in ASEAN. Malaysian banks such as Maybank, CIMB, RHB and Public Bank, and telecommunication companies including Maxis, TM, DiGi all have deep regional footprints. Other regional players include YTL, AirAsia and Malindo.
17. Malaysia offers unmatched connectivity and is well positioned as a strategic business partner within the region. We have strong foundations in the manufacturing multi-ethnic and multi-lingual workforce that can effectively communicate with most of the markets near and far.
18. And based on today’s discussion with your corporate leaders, I detected a high degree of enthusiasm and very positive views about Malaysia and how Malaysia has a very business-friendly Government but more importantly how the top leadership of both China and Malaysia are working very closely together to bring our ties to a new level.
19. So this is very exciting and together with China’s Belt and Road initiatives, and our Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will make the world’s centre of gravity move more towards the East and to the Asia Pacific and I believe that this will be the Asian century. And when we make this as the Asian century, let us be doing that on a strong partnership between Malaysia and China, Malaysia and ASEAN and the entire region. And of course, China being the largest economy, will certainly be at the centre of the Asian century.