Amid the growing uncertainties in US industry and trade triggered by the ongoing US-China trade war that has prompted potential US investors to look for investment opportunities in countries other than China, the New York director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) made a strong pitch for Malaysia as an “attractive, rewarding and business-friendly destination”.
Speaking before a group of businesspeople, including some Malaysian Chinese, in New York’s Flushing district on Wednesday, Shams Rusli, the New York-based Mida director, explained to the group how his office can help potential investors:
“Mida assists companies that intend to invest in the manufacturing and services sectors. Our services can facilitate the implementation of projects, site selection, joint venture collaboration opportunities and providing information on business opportunities in Malaysia.”
Kim Bong, a Malaysian community representative considered to be the driving force behind the Malaysian American Association (MAA), brought Shams Rusli and the group of businesspeople together.
In an interview with Bernama, Shams Rusli said that Malaysia offered opportunities for potential investors amid the uncertainties caused among investors and industry circles by the trade war.
“We notice, for example, that Malaysia has experienced a rise in investment inflow since the trade war started. I can cite, particularly, two industries which seem to have benefitted – the automotive parts and the electrical and electronics (E&E) industries,” Shams Rusli said, though he did not quantify the investment rise directly attributed to the trade war.
Malaysia’s E&E sector attracted the largest flow of foreign investments amounting to RM8.2 billion or some 84.5 percent of all investments in the country, coming mostly from Singapore, the Netherlands, Japan and Germany, he said, adding that the industry had recorded Malaysia’s highest export earnings in 2017 totalling some RM343 billion or 36.7 percent of the country’s total exports.
Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Japan, the Netherlands, Germany and the US were the markets to record a significant rise in Malaysia’s E&E exports.
'Two bright spots'
Shams Rusli said that an “exciting new” feature in the E&E sector is the use of flexible hybrid electronics (FHE) in several new industrial technologies and wearable electronics.
“FHE makes it possible to produce lightweight, low-cost, flexible, stretchable and efficient smart products with a variety of applications, including health-monitoring wearables and rugged sensors,” he said.
Global trends that could impact, and be impacted by, Malaysia’s E&E industry include Industry 4.0, the pervasive robotics and automation in manufacturing facilities, logistics and warehousing, and the increasing recourse to intelligent home and building technologies; a move towards modernising “lean” manufacturing, and the digital lifestyle economy.
Such investors may consider capitalising on various strategic opportunities such as R&D funding aimed at implementing Industry 4.0 and smart manufacturing.
According to Mida, Malaysia received in the January-September 2018 period FDI worth some RM44 billion, a 250 percent rise over the year-earlier period. China accounted for 32 percent of the FDI inflow, followed by Indonesia (18.4 percent), the Netherlands (17 percent), the US (6.4 percent), South Korea (five percent), Japan (4.3 percent) and Singapore (2.5 percent).
With potential investing countries looking at Malaysia because of the fallout from the trade war, foreign investors’ confidence in Malaysia had also risen, Mida said.
Shams Rusli also described the aerospace and the medical devices industries as “two bright spots” with considerable potential to attract FDI, as Malaysia continues to flex its muscles in those sectors buoyed by new technology and its innovation prowess.
“The aerospace and medical devices industries are promising sectors for Malaysia, which is making inroads in these sectors globally,” he said.