Deputy minister: Malaysia to pull in more American investors amid ongoing trade war

Opalyn Mok

International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Ong Kian Ming speaks to the press during the 2019 Innovate Malaysia Design Competition at Tunku Abdul Rahman College, Lembah Permai, Penang, July 22, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, July 22 — Malaysia is set to bank in on the trade war between the US and China by attracting investors from the US, International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Ong Kian Ming revealed today.

Ong said Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) is working carefully with respective state investment promotion agencies to bring in more investors into the country especially in the electrical and electronic (E&E) sector.

“There will be more activities in the near future including trips to the US to focus on the E&E sector to realise the potential investments we can attract,” he told a press conference here after attending the Innovate Malaysia Design Competition Grand Finale ceremony.

He said in Penang, the main focus will still have to be the E&E sector because of the existing ecosystem here.

He said the sector is a broad sector that encompasses many other sectors including automotive and medical devices.

“This is beyond the normal semiconductor sector, we need to expand our investments,” he said.

Ong said one of the main objectives for his visit to Penang was also to meet with the E&E players in the state.

“This morning, I met 10 of them and had a discussion with InvestPenang,” he said.

He said there is a high chance for Penang to increase the number of re-investments by existing companies based here.

“The opportunity to attract new players into Penang and Malaysia is now at a historic turning point as many players in the industry are rethinking their supply chain,” he said.

He said in the past, many in the industry increased their footprint in China but now, in light of the trade war, more companies want to diversify and move to other countries.

He said two companies such as Hotayi in Penang and D’Tech in Johor that had set up plants in Malaysia before the trade war.

He said these companies are now witnessing increase orders from the US and benefiting from it.

“Existing players here in Malaysia that had expanded their capacity here before the trade war are now also benefiting from it,” he said.

He said the country hoped to capture more of such opportunities to increase foreign direct investments into the country.

Other than the E&E sector, the ministry is also working at attracting more multinational companies to set up global business services (GBS) here, he said.

Ong said the government is trying to attract more multinational companies to set up their GBS in Kuala Lumpur.

“Many will look at Singapore to set up their GBS but we want to attract these companies to set up here including in Penang which already has a few large GBS such as Swarovski and Tesla,” he said.

Ong was commenting on remarks made by US-Asean Business Council senior Vice President and regional managing director Michael W. Michalak that Malaysia can explore more US firms to establish their presence here.

He said big US firms are taking steps to move their supply chains from China to neighbouring Asian countries including Malaysia.

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