Malaysia is an excellent, ideal gateway to the ASEAN market, which has a nation of 625m people, accounting for 8% of the total world population. Malaysia has a very business-friendly policy, where foreigners can do business comfortably. We have excellent facilities not only in terms of physical infrastructure but also of soft infrastructure. We have excellent connectivity in terms of air travel, where our two major airlines – Malaysia Airlines and AirAsia – link the whole world with Malaysia as well as Malaysia with the ASEAN countries.
Malaysia used to be a major exporter of commodities like rubber, palm oil, timber and tin, but now the structure of the economy has changed completely. More than 80% of our exports today are manufactured goods, of which more than 35% are electrical and electronic products, followed by products like chemicals, machinery, and optical and scientific equipment. Mining accounts for 11% of our total exports; LNG accounts for about 6% also. So if you look at this structure, obviously commodities are not a major export item anymore. This is a result of our strategy to diversify our economy, not only in terms of manufacturing but also in terms of services. The major sector within services is tourism, but there is emphasis in the area of ICT, construction, and maintenance, repair and overhaul in the aerospace industry. We are putting greater emphasis in terms of services within the oil and gas sector as well.
Malaysia has very diversified products and services now compared to 10 years ago. We positioned “Made in Malaysia” products as competitive and reliable products, based on experience that we have in several industries that Malaysia is known globally for. For example, Malaysia is among the leading exporters for semiconductor devices, we are the number one supplier of medical gloves, we are increasingly known as an exporter and manufacturer for processed food. We know that Malaysia has a very high standard for halal products – halal, a certification of Malaysia, is recognised globally. In terms of the services sector, Malaysian companies have been involved in construction of megaprojects, for example in Dubai, in Abu Dhabi, in India, in ASEAN countries, but also in projects like airport construction, railway construction and monorail construction. Now some companies are also looking at construction of telecommunication towers in several countries – for example, we have companies that are involved in providing telecommunications services in several countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia.
ASEAN Economic Community
Malaysia is a leading player in the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community. ASEAN will be closely integrated going forward. Using Malaysia as a base to enter the ASEAN market is an excellent strategy. As Malaysia is also diversifying its economy into new industries such as the aerospace industry and the automotive industry, there is a lot of opportunity for foreign investors and foreign companies to take advantage of the new policy introduced by the government. Malaysia has continuously integrated itself into the global economy through the various free trade agreements that we have signed multilaterally and bilaterally. In doing business with Malaysia, the international community is actually doing business with the entire world.