ASEAN BAC Malaysia Consultation Meeting: Malaysia as a springboard for UK businesses looking to tap into ASEAN, Asia and RCEP markets
Kuala Lumpur, 14 October 2021 — The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) Malaysia held a consultation meeting on Thursday with business associations representing UK businesses to discuss Malaysia’s efforts in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) from the United Kingdom and its business communities.
“The UK has a strong investment footprint in Malaysia as Malaysia has for many years been an attractive destination for British investors,” said British High Commissioner to Malaysia His Excellency Charles Hay MVO.
“With economies and the rules of international trade rapidly modernizing, UK investors are increasingly looking for countries that provide regulatory, fiscal and political stability, that promote and protect open competition. Countries also have an advantage if they are home to international legal and professional services firms that support businesses operating on a global scale, that benefit from regional trade agreements giving preferential access to new markets, and increasingly, are low carbon intensity,” Hay added.
1. Malaysia is well-positioned to be a springboard for UK businesses looking to tap into RCEP markets
In his opening remarks, ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Munir Majid said, “The long and historic relationship between Britain and Malaysia needs to be revitalised across all fronts, particularly in trade and investment. Both countries have been distracted in recent years, pandemic aside. Recent developments such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), and greater ASEAN economic integration point to opportunities for both countries as Britain looks out from Europe more and more, and Malaysia talks of itself as the regional hub.”
ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon concurred, adding “Malaysia and the UK have been traditional trading partners for decades, though merchandise exports from both sides are now subject to import duties what with the graduation of Malaysia from the UK’s Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). In the absence of a free trade agreement, we look forward to a time in the near future when both countries are full members of the CPTPP, where two-way trade will increase and where British industry could set up a base in Malaysia to further tap the RCEP markets.”
2. Malaysia-UK trade in goods expected to continue uptrend post-pandemic
“Bilateral trade between UK and Malaysia was worth £4.7 billion (RM26.7 billion) in 2020,” said UK-ASEAN Business Council (UKABC) Chief Executive Mr Ian Gibbons. As such, he said, the UK-ASEAN Business Council sees great potential for growing this trade and investment relationship especially in areas such as education, green finance, and digitalisation.
“Total bilateral trade in goods and services between UK and Malaysia took a dip towards the end of Q1 2021 due to the pandemic,” noted ASEAN-BAC Malaysia Council Member Mr Raja Singham. “However, I am confident that this consultation between the JBCs and Foreign Business Councils from the UK will allow us an avenue to explore not just investment opportunities but also the continuation of transfer in knowledge, skills, money, and technology.”
3. Malaysia continues to be a strategic regional hub for UK businesses in ASEAN and Asia
“Malaysia and the UK, through our rich historical ties, are already enjoying long-established bilateral trade and investment relations that continue to remain positive despite challenging times,” said British-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (BMCC) CEO Ms Jennifer Lopez. “As well as being a strong reflection of Malaysia’s attractiveness as an investment destination, this is also a key advantage that we should leverage to position Malaysia as a strategic gateway to ASEAN for UK businesses interested in growing their footprint in this region.”
Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) Deputy Chief Executive Officer (Investment Promotion & Facilitation) Mr Sivasuriyamoorthy Sundara Raja, for his part, said, “The confidence and intentions of international business communities to invest in Malaysia remains very high. Malaysia’s business friendly policies on enhancing the country’s digital economy are the key factor to scout, attract and facilitate high technology, knowledge-based and capital-intensive investment from the United Kingdom, which will generate multiplier effects to the nation’s economy.”
InvestKL’s Senior Manager of Investor Relations (Europe) Mr Aidil Azman concurred, “UK and Malaysia’s longstanding ties sets a strong foundation for both nations to propel forward. With forward-looking national policies, a flourishing business environment, and reforms for further progress, Malaysia and Greater KL is home to an ever-growing number of UK companies looking to navigate Asia’s vibrant market.”