Malaysia is still a hotspot of opportunities for Chinese investors

While China’s Belt and Road Initiative, economic reforms and trade policies have raised questions of a possible shift in the business landscape for China and its trade partners, insights gathered from the Malaysia Economic Forum 2019 cemented Malaysia’s position as a strong host and supporter of opportunities for Chinese investors.


Eminent speakers, industry experts and government representatives weighed in with their opinions on the expectations of Chinese investors in Malaysia, strategic sectors for investment in Malaysia, and ways to move forward together. The forum not only examined Malaysia’s competitiveness against neighbouring countries, but also took a closer look at the new Malaysia-China relationship, where new challenges and opportunities have emerged.


In his keynote address, YB Dr Ong Kian Ming, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) agreed that the China-Malaysia relationship has continued to strengthen year-on-year and said, “As China’s largest trading partner and source of foreign direct investment (FDI) for the past three years, Malaysia is a natural and strategic destination for long term Chinese investments. This is especially relevant as Malaysia is projected to attract more investment, as a result of the ongoing United States-China trade war. The latest data shows that the amount of approved manufacturing Chinese investments in Malaysia has increased three fold from RM3.9 billion (2017) to RM15.6 billion (Jan-Sept 2018).”


“Having first established our ties with China 45 years ago, we foresee our economic relationship with China to continue to deepen in the future. By 2030, China could be the world’s largest consumer market and Malaysia’s geographical advantage could play a part in bringing greater economic and trade prospect to the country. We are proud to be China’s largest trade partner, and we hope to see the trade gap between both countries reinforced further through trade, agriculture, manufacturing and construction,” he added.


Yee Wing Peng, Deloitte Malaysia Chief Executive Officer and Deloitte Southeast Asia Chinese Services Group Leader said, “Malaysia has the natural propensity and strengths to attract FDIs due to her business-friendly government, advanced infrastructure, lower cost of doing business and multilingual workforce. In particular, there are three critical success factors for Chinese investors to thrive in Malaysia at the present juncture i.e. timing, geography and people. More Chinese companies are considering placing part of their operation to other countries due to the global trade war. Geographically, we are strategically located – and with a conducive business environment and friendly people, we are poised to welcome more FDIs from China.”


“Amidst global uncertainties and changes in local policy reforms coming into play, we see Malaysia embracing change and adapting to transitions in the global economy landscape to stay relevant and strong. As a developing nation, Malaysia should constantly seek strategic partnerships with businesses from other countries that have cutting-edge technologies so as to stay ahead of the curve in embracing Industry 4.0.,” he added at the Malaysia Economic Forum 2019.


The Malaysia Economic Forum 2019 discussed the impact of the change in China’s trade and investment policies in Malaysia and explored collaboration opportunities for investors on the Digital Free Trade Zone and Electronic World Trade Platform, among others. Supported by MITI, the Malaysia 2019 Economic Forum was organised by Deloitte Malaysia and co-partners, Bank of China (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd and the Chinese Enterprises Association in Malaysia (CENAM).


Concluding the forum, Wing Peng said that to attract more FDIs into Malaysia, more innovative ways other than offering more tax incentives for investors are needed. One way to appeal to foreign investors is to focus on the improvement of road infrastructure, provision of skilled local talent and readily available utilities for foreign investment projects in Malaysia. This mirrors China’s approach to maximise ease-of-business for investors, while ensuring the government’s coffers are not impacted.