VIDEO: Andrew Jeffreys looks at the drivers of growth in Emerging Markets
The pivotal part that UK companies could play in supporting Malaysia’s bid to reach its 2020 advanced economy goals, was one of several topics explored by Oxford Business Group’s CEO, Andrew Jeffreys, in a keynote speech he gave at the Malaysia-UK Forum.
Titled ‘Deepening Malaysia-UK Relations and Exploring Business Opportunities in Malaysia’, the event, which was organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI), took place at the Royal Garden Hotel, London, UK.
The forum shone a spotlight on Malaysia’s bilateral relationship with the UK, updating attendees on the latest developments in the ASEAN state, with a focus on business and investment opportunities arising from the 11th Malaysia Plan and the Economic Transformation Programme.
The event was attended by dignitaries, VIPs and participants from across the public and private sectors. High-level representatives speaking at the event included the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi; the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Malaysia, Dato’ Mah Siew Keong; the Malaysian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Dato’ Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi and the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to the ASEAN Economic Community Richard Graham.
In his presentation, Jeffreys said Malaysia’s investor-friendly climate, stable infrastructure and proficiency in the English language, which gave it an edge on key ASEAN neighbours, were already known to many UK firms and had helped to make 2014 “another momentous year” in bilateral ties. Looking ahead, Malaysia’s future national development favoured close cooperation with the UK, he added, presenting myriad opportunities for British firms in fields such as high and new technology, education and innovation.
“To date, UK companies already have more than RM15bn ($3.46bn) invested in Malaysia, with annual trade exceeding RM17bn ($3.91bn). These numbers are likely to grow,” he told participants. “Having gone through two decades of rapid industrialisation and investment in physical infrastructure and machinery, Malaysia is now poised to focus on software, skill creation and smart process management to reach advanced nation status in just five years’ time.”
Jeffreys, who is also OBG’s Editor-in-Chief, acknowledged the challenges that Malaysia faces as it moves to diversify and stimulate its economy at a time of low global oil prices and slowdown in China. He added, however, that measures such as the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and gradual removal of fuel subsidies should help to free up room for investment into new infrastructure.
Quality education, research and innovation featured top of the list for businesses targeting expansion within and beyond ASEAN, Jeffreys noted, including the setting up of “smart linkages” to neighbouring countries.
“A commitment to innovation and investment in higher skill base and technology is going to be the defining factor in how fast Malaysia can grow relative to its ASEAN peers,” he added.
Many of the issues on the agenda at the conference will be further explored in The Report: Malaysia 2016, Oxford Business Group’s forthcoming publication on the country’s economy. The publication, which marks OBG’s 10th year of operations in Malaysia, will be a vital guide to the many facets of the country, including its macroeconomics, infrastructure and other sectoral developments. The Report: Malaysia 2016 will be produced with the Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (MIGHT), the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) and the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS). It will be available in print and online.