LONDON, July 13 (Bernama) — Malaysia on Wednesday rolled out the red carpet for British investors, with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak saying he is determined to ensure that Malaysia remains a profitable destination for foreign companies.
Speaking at a roundtable meeting with captains of industry here as he began his official visit to the United Kingdom, Najib invited them to explore investment opportunities in Malaysia.
He said there would be many projects that UK companies, in partnership with Malaysian firms, could explore particularly in diverse areas such as business services, education, healthcare, electrical and electronics, green technology and information and communications technology.
“We’ll continue to welcome wider UK investment, particularly in high-technology, value-added and knowledge-based activities,” he said, alluding to increased opportunities under the New Economic Model, Economic Transformation Programme and 10th Malaysia Plan.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the vibrant business environment and well-developed industry structure, as well as, infrastructure in Malaysia would continue to be enhanced to ensure that it remained a competitive location for foreign investors.
“Our bilateral relations must continue to focus on driving and incentivising Malaysia-UK private sector partnerships, and strengthen the already strong ties between our nations,” he said.
Najib, who is making his first official visit to the UK at the invitation of British Prime Minister David Cameron, flew into London on Tuesday after concluding his visit to Turkmenistan.
He updated the gathering in the British capital on Malaysia’s current economic position as he touted the Southeast Asian nation, which is in the process of transforming itself from a middle-income to a high-income economy, as an investment destination.
“Malaysia remains a favoured investment destination for foreign investors. In 2010, foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the country increased by more than 540 per cent to US$9 billion compared with US$1.4 billion in 2009,” he said.
The prime minister said at the end of 2010, the UK was the 11th largest source of FDI in Malaysia, with US$1.7 billion worth of investments in 394 manufacturing projects.
“These companies were involved in chemical and chemical products, petroleum products, petrochemicals, electrical and electronic products, as well as, rubber and plastic products,” he said.
Najib said that Malaysia’s trade with the UK totalled US$4.1 billion last year with exports to the UK amounting to US$2.3 billion, an increase of 1.6 per cent, compared with 2009.
It saw the UK become Malaysia’s 18th largest trading partner.
Malaysian products exported to the UK included electrical and electronic products; wood products; transport equipment; rubber products; textile and clothings; and machinery appliances and parts.
Malaysia’s imports from the UK last year were valued at US$1.8 billion, a decrease of 2.7 per cent over 2009.
Imports comprised mainly manufactured goods such as electrical and electronic products; machinery, appliances and parts; chemical and chemical products; transport equipment; iron and steel products; manufacture of metal; and optical and scientific equipment.
Najib told the business leaders that in 2010, Malaysia achieved strong growth of 7.2 per cent after a contraction of 1.7 per cent in 2009.
“This is the highest growth achieved since 2000, with most sectors expanding and exports increasing,” he noted.
The prime minister said the Malaysian economy was expected to grow by between five and six per cent this year.
“We’re optimistic that as a result of our healthy reserves position, the Malaysian economy will remain strong,” said Najib.
He pointed out that the ringgit had strengthened by about 12 per cent since 2010 and that high commodity prices had been coupled with strong domestic demand.
“We’re also bullish about FDI inflows continuing to grow as we strengthen domestic investment,” he added.
Najib observed that Malaysian companies had invested overseas over the years, taking advantage of various business opportunities, including gaining market access in both emerging and developed economies.
Todate, US$900 million worth of Malaysian investments have flowed into the UK, he said.
These investments have been in the financial, banking and insurance activities, utilities, mining and quarrying, as well as, wholesale and retail trade.
He said there was enormous potential for collaboration between Malaysian and UK companies for investment opportunities in new growth sectors.
“I am confident that the strength of UK companies in sectors like education, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology and knowledge-driven industries will give them an edge in seizing these opportunities in Malaysia,” he said.
In addition, Malaysia’s strong foundation in halal products and services and Islamic finance offers opportunities for exciting partnerships with UK companies, he said.
Source : Bernama