Malaysia-China Belt & Road Economic Cooperation Forum 2019
Royale Chulan Hotel, Kuala Lumpur
9.30 am 8 August 2019
YB Lim Guan Eng
Minister Of Finance Malaysia
- YB Tan Kok Wa
Chairman of Malaysia China Business Council
Malaysia’s Envoy to PR China
- He Bai Tian
Ambassador Extraordinary &Plenipotentiary of the People’s Republic of
China to Malaysia
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Salam Sejahtera, and good morning,
Malaysia’s strategic location and competitiveness are among the factors that embed Malaysia deeply in the global supply chain.
Malaysia is one of the beneficiaries of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The BRI is an economic strategy formulated by China to enhance its connectivity with the world. Any country which such a plan cannot ignore Malaysia, which sits in the heart of Asean and right in the middle of east-west trade.
Malaysia supports the BRI to encourage sustainable development throughout Asia and bring the region closer together through a transparent and fair mechanism. If done right, BRI will be a win-win solution for Asia.
We have expressed support for the plan by becoming one of the signatories to the BRI Communiqué signed in May 2017. We are also one of the founding member of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) established to support infrastructure development throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
GROWING CHINA’S INTEREST IN MALAYSIA
The “Malaysia-China Belt and Road Economic Cooperation Forum 2019” is a special forum following the 2nd Belt and Road Forum held in Beijing in April 2019. The participation of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Beijing forum has spurred great interest from business and industrialists from China to invest in Malaysia. We are now seeing more investors and officials from China making enquiries and prospecting for new opportunities and new areas for collaboration in Malaysia.
China’s interest in Malaysia is already high. In the first quarter of 2019, approved foreign direct investment (FDI) across all Malaysian sectors grew by 73.4% to RM29.3 billion, versus RM16.9 billion a year ago. The 73.4% approved FDI growth was powered by a 127% increase in approved manufacturing FDI to RM20.2 billion, from RM8.9 billion in the same quarter last year. Out of the RM20.2 billion approved manufacturing FDI during the period, RM4.4 billion came from China, making China the second biggest source of approved manufacturing investment during the first quarter of 2019.
China is also Malaysia’s single biggest trading partner. In the first half of 2019,total goods trade between Malaysia and China was valued at RM148.8 billion,or 16.6% of total Malaysian external trade of RM895.9 billion. And for the whole of 2018, total Malaysian trade with China hit RM313.8 billion, the highest in history based on data compiled from the Department of Statistics Malaysia.
Malaysia is getting more tourists from China this year too. In the January-May 2019 period, Malaysia welcomed 1.34 million tourists from China and this is 7.6% more than 1.24 million Chinese visitors during the same period last year, according to Tourism Malaysia 3 database.This is a substantial share of total tourist arrivals for Malaysia. In the first 5 months of 2019, Malaysia received 10.95 million visitors, which is 4.8% more than 10.45 million people that visited Malaysia in the same period last year.
MALAYSIA IS A COMPETITIVE ECONOMY
The strong economic ties between the two countries are not merely based on close social and political relations. Malaysia on its own is a highly competitive economy offering investors,and especially manufacturers,with sophisticated and reliable manufacturing base backed by skilled, adaptable and multilingual workers,excellent infrastructure, strong rule of law and stable socio-political environment.
The World Bank ranks Malaysia as the 15th easiest place to do business in 2019 out of 190 economies. Meanwhile, IMD puts Malaysia as the 22nd most competitive economy in the world in its 2019 World Competitive Year book.
On the innovation front, Malaysia ranks second among the upper middle-income economies in the Global Innovation Index 2019 (GII) published by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
Beyond domestic considerations, Malaysia has easy access to the world’s major markets, be it the US, Europe or else where. This is an important point at a time when the global supply chain is being reoriented due to trade flows either in the Pacific driven by the US, or in the Atlantic driven by the UK. Amid the significant reorientation, Malaysia is the reliable partner that has continued access to various economies. For China-based exporters affected by the trade war, Malaysiais clearly a base that you need. Malaysia sits in the middle of Asean, a region of 650 million people with a growing middle-class.
CHINA-MALAYSIA COLLABORATIONS IN MALAYSIA
There are more than 100 Chinese entrepreneurs in this hall today. This demonstrates the strong trade ties between Malaysia and China. To the Chinese entrepreneurs already rooted here, I thank you 4 for investing in Malaysia and special thanks to those who have set up their regional offices in Malaysia. We will continue to facilitate Chinese investment into Malaysia particularly the high-tech industries and innovation-based services.
5G TECHNOLOGY IN MALAYSIA
I am glad to learn that Huawei is here with us today and will be giving an update of 5G technology. I am happy that Huawei has its regional hub located in Kuala Lumpur, with more than 2,500 employees throughout Malaysia. Reputed as the leader in 5G technology, Huawei and other technology companies have a role to play in aiding Malaysia implement Industry 4.0 technology, especially 5G, throughout our society.
The Government of Malaysia has identified Industry 4.0 as the country’snew growth engine.The Ministry of International Trade and Industry is the lead ministry in rolling out the National Policy on Industrial 4.0 and the Ministry of Finance is fully on board with the plan.
We are encouraging our companies to digitalise and embrace new technologies in order to improve their competitiveness domestically and internationally. The enabling technologies with digitalisation covers an extensive range of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data analytics, augmented reality, additive manufacturing, Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, robotics and advanced materials.
I must congratulate MCBC under the leadership of YB Tan Kok Wai for organizing this forum to facilitate investors and entrepreneurs from Malaysia and China to tap into the opportunities generated out of the Belt and Road Initiative. At a time of global uncertainties caused by trade tensions, this event is one of many initiatives that will help us weather the storm together.
YB Tan Kok Wai has been busy engaging Chinese leaders and trade officials since becoming the chairman of MCBC in August last year. I applaud him for launching a guidebook for the Chinese investors on Malaysia commercial laws to facilitate the potential Chinese investors to Malaysia.
Let us trade together, learn together, grow together so that we can enjoy the benefits together.