LONDON: The UK market’s confidence in the Malaysian economy remains high, thanks partly to the continuous high-level efforts by the government to engage with its UK counterpart and private sector, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The Prime Minister ended his five-day working visit to the UK on Tuesday – his second visit in less than a year to the country where he had received his tertiary education.
This visit clearly shows that he is not taking the traditionally strong relationship between Malaysia and the UK for granted.
Speaking to the Malaysian media at the end of his visit on Wedenesday, Najib noted the importance of reenergising the two countries’ relationship from time to time so that Malaysia would stay on the UK radar.
The UK, among others, is one of the top European manufacturing investors in Malaysia while Malaysia is the second largest investor in London’s commercial property market.
“We need to do such an engagement (with the UK government and industry) especially if they are not getting the true picture from media reports that may be inaccurate or contain elements introduced with ill intentions by certain parties,” Najib said at the media conference.
“When we have engagements like this, we are able to provide them with the facts.”
Najib believes the Government’s efforts ensure that the warm sentiment and positive attitude of the British government and private sector towards Malaysia continues to be strong.
During his UK visit, Najib, among others, inaugurated the Malaysian-UK Investor Showcase organised jointly by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority and Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council, which started with the Bursa Malaysia Breakfast Session with potential British investors.
On the response, Bursa CEO Datuk Seri Tajuddin Atan told StarBiz that the reception was good.
“Fund managers are well informed. They already have the facts and know what they want, but they want to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth. They want to hear from the Prime Minister about the development plans and growth, and what we’ll do moving forward.”
In the past, Tajuddin said, “we would get 15 to 16 fund managers; but this time, we have 28. Of these, only two have joined us previously. The rest are fresh participants.”
He said it was important for Najib to speak of Barisan Nasional’s “great election success” in Sarawak, which reflects on the country’s political stability.
One of the UK participants at the breakfast session, talking to StarBiz afterwards, described Najib as “open, clear and frank” in their discussions. He had asked the PM on efficiency and transparency.
Najib told the media that among the issues raised by the fund managers pertained to skills and productivity.
“I took this opportunity to explain to them that we (the Government) are committed to growth and that we will pay very close attention to skills and talent development as well as productivity growth. We are a business friendly government; we will support them in any way possible to increase the UK investments in Malaysia,” he said.
On the upcoming referendum to decide whether Britain should leave or stay in the European Union (EU), Najib said the effect of a “Brexit” would be bad not only for the UK but also the global market.
He opined that leaving the large common market would make Britain less competitive.
Incidentally, Najib also launched Khazanah Europe Investment Ltd office at London’s highest building, The Shard, during this visit.
Newly elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, whom Najib met and congratulated, told him that he was pleased that Khazanah had chosen to site its regional office for Europe in the city.
“He (Sadiq) believes that this will lead to more investments and deals between Malaysia and Britain,” said Najib.
This is the sovereign fund’s fifth overseas regional base, after Istanbul, Beijing, Mumbai and San Francisco.
Najib expressed hope that the confidence of the UK market in Malaysia would translate not only into long-term foreign direct investment but also equity market investment and short-term capital inflows to the country.
Source: The Star