KEYNOTE ADDRESS BY
HONOURABLE DATUK HAJI AHMAD HAJI MASLAN DEPUTY MINISTER OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND INDUSTRY
1) First of all, before I begin, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Government of Kazakhstan and the esteemed organising committee of Astana Expo 2017, for successfully realising their vision to host the first Specialised World Expo in Central Asia. To that, I say, well done!
2) I had the opportunity to do a walkabout of the expo site and I visited a few countries’ pavilions, including Kazakhstan. I find them to be very remarkable and impressive. Largely, the ambience here is captivating, entwining a mixture of national identity, traditional values, futuristic concepts, visionary thinking and inspiring ideas. Hats off to the Government of Kazakhstan and those involved in the organization of this event.
3) It is now Week 5 at Astana Expo 2017, and I am honoured to be joining you in inspiring actions and conversations about creating green growth in the emerging world – as well as business and investment potentials with Malaysia.
4) The year 2017 is an important milestone that is momentous for Malaysia’s bilateral relations with Kazakhstan. In fact, it marks the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Malaysia and Kazakhstan have established and nurtured warm relations, encompassing various aspects. There have been many high level visits between the two countries and people-to-people interactions have been vigorous, predominantly through tourism and education.
5) My Ministry, namely the Ministry of International Trade & Industry (MITI) Malaysia, undertakes a key role in promoting bilateral trade and investment between our two countries. Specifically, we see Kazakhstan as an important country, full of possibilities and prospects that are complementary to the two nation-states.
6) Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), an agency under my Ministry, has an office in Almaty to oversee the growth of bilateral trades between Malaysia and Kazakhstan. Accordingly, it is expected for us to support every effort to boost and cultivate our economic links. This includes platforms such as this Business Forum that will bring about mutual benefits for both countries.
7) Notwithstanding the uncertain global economic situation, I am happy to note that Malaysia’s economic links with Kazakhstan are expanding at a steady and sturdy pace. Presently, Kazakhstan is in fact, Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner amongst the Commonwealth of Independent States.
8) In 2016, Malaysia's total trade volume with Kazakhstan has grown by 36.1 percent to reach US$49.22 million compared with US$57.84 million from the previous year. Our total exports to Kazakhstan amounted to US$43.78 million. This is a 30.48 percent rise compared with US$38.81 million for the corresponding period in 2015. Malaysia's imports from Kazakhstan in 2016 expanded by 109 percent from 2015.
9) Currently, Malaysia is host to over 8,000 companies which include multinational corporations from more than 40 countries. These companies have made Malaysia their offshore location for manufacturing and services operations. I hope that Malaysia, too, will turn out to be an important investment destination for Kazakh investors.
10) The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), another agency under my Ministry, is the first point of contact for investors on the lookout to invest in Malaysia.
11) As of 31 December 2016, a total of 20,610 industrial projects were implemented with total investment of US$208.6 billion. Out of this, 54.5 per cent or US$113.8 billion was from foreign investment.
12) In 2016, Malaysia approved a total of US$6.1 billion foreign Investment in the manufacturing sector, an increase of 19.3 per cent compared with 2015.
13) This is an indication that foreign businessmen continue to show confidence in investing in Malaysia.
14) The Malaysian Government had continued to introduce more pro-business policies. These include measures to enhance logistics and business connectivity as well as reducing barriers to facilitate the ease of doing business. As a result, Malaysia is now well-known as one of the wellconnected economies. We are well positioned to become the regional or global operations base for multinational companies (MNCs).
15) The Government has also introduced the new Principal Hub scheme to incentivise companies that use Malaysia as a base in conducting its regional and global businesses and operations, to manage, control and support its key functions including management of risks, decision making, strategic business activities, trading, finance, management and human resource.
16) More MNCs have adopted the Malaysia's Principal Hub model, which allows faster decision making and supports the evolving trends in the supply chain. Conglomerates and MNCs have greater flexibility in serving their network companies to cater for the Asia Pacific region and global markets. Ladies and Gentlemen,
17) Besides regional establishment, in 2016, support services projects, with tax incentives being approved, rise by 156.3 per cent to USD 2.09 billion. The significant increase was due to the many large investments that were approved for green technology activities and integrated logistics services (ILS).
18) We are mindful that the services sector has helped in enhancing the efficiency of the other sectors in the country. Global establishments and end-to-end supply chain management services, for example, are fast becoming key components in the nation's economy. These services will boost trade efficiency and the competitive advantage for Malaysian industries.
19) The advantages of doing business in Malaysia are bountiful. The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which was established in 2015 has created a single market and production base in the region. When fully implemented, the AEC will lead to a strongly integrated regional economy that will facilitate a seamless cross-border trading and investment regime amongst ASEAN's ten Member States.
20) It is a market with massive potentials. ASEAN's population numbers at 625 million people. We are looking at the rising middle class with increasing volume of disposable income and a region averaging annual economic growth of five percent. ASEAN's annual GDP is currently estimated at more than US$2.5 trillion, making us the seventh largest economy in the world; and third largest. With the AEC, this is expected to almost double, to US$4.7 trillion by 2020.
21) Together with the AEC, the network of ASEAN Free Trade Agreements (AFTA) with dialogue partners such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand also serves as an added incentive for investors with keen eyes on Malaysia.
22) ASEAN is currently in negotiations with these dialogue partners to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP). RCEP comprises nations whose population exceeds 3 billion, collectively, combined economy totaling US$17 trillion and share of world trade estimated at 40 percent.
23) As one of the largest economies among the ASEAN member countries, Malaysia offers many strategic value propositions to investors. These include Malaysia’s strategic geographical location, our pragmatic, prudent and business-friendly policies and our well-developed infrastructure and connectivity.
24) For that reason, instead of competing with other ASEAN member countries, Malaysia has adopted a complementary method in attracting investments into the region.
25) Clearly, the potential for enhancing business linkages and cooperation in the region is massive. And I would strongly urge Kazakh investors eyeing the ASEAN market to consider Malaysia as their Gateway to the ASEAN market.
26) My colleague, the Deputy Minister of Energy and Green Technology and Water (KeTTHA), Honourable Senator S.K. Devamany, just a moment ago, has briefly highlighted Malaysia’s ambition to become an inclusive and sustainable advanced nation by 2020 and our efforts in realising this national target.
27) The Malaysian Government is deeply aware of the importance in keeping the balance the between the needs for economic growth and the accompanying environmental pressures. Green technology has been identified as a driver of the future economy for the nation that would contribute to overall Green Growth and Sustainable Development.
28) Tax incentives for Green Technology in the form of Green Investment Tax Allowance with partial or full exemption from the Corporate Tax for the purchase of green technology assets and Income Tax Exemption on the use of green technology services and system were introduced to further reinforce the development of green technology.
29) Projects which qualify for this incentive include renewable energy; energy efficiency; integrated waste management and green building / green data centre. In addition, eligible services activities include system integration of renewable energy; energy services; services related to green building / green data centre; green certification of products, equipment and building; and Green Township.
30) I would like to take this opportunity to invite Kazakh companies and participants of Astana Expo 2017 to invest in these areas in Malaysia either on their own or in collaboration with Malaysian companies.
31) In 2016, the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA) Malaysia, has approved a total investment of USD579 million (146 projects) as compared to USD 419 million (160 projects) in 2015 in Green Technology sectors. This demonstrates significant growth in Green Technology development with the Government's initiative through ongoing policy and promotion.
32) I earlier touched on Malaysia's attractiveness and appeal as an investment destination. Nonetheless, don't just take my word for it. The rankings given by more than a few influential international organizations confirmed it. These include:
a. The recent World Competitiveness Yearbook compiled by the Swiss-based Institute for Management Development placed Malaysia at 19th position among 60 countries;
b. Malaysia was ranked 23rd in terms of ease of doing business in the World Bank Doing Business Report 2016;
c. Malaysia was also awarded The Most Attractive Manufacturing Market of Choice for Future Relocation according to the US based Cushman & Wakefield Manufacturing Risk Index 2017. Its Established Index ranks the 30 largest countries by manufacturing output while the Pioneering Index ranks the top 10 manufacturing locations by growth;
d. Third placement ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2017 in terms of investor protection index; and
e. Eighth in ranking for Top Prospective Host Economy among developing economies for the period 2015-2017 by UNCTAD.
33) Malaysia’s commendable performance in these rankings is independent affirmation of the Government's efforts in driving Malaysia towards a high-income economy by 2020. I welcome more members from Kazakhstan business community to join us on this journey and share in our growing prosperity.
34) In concluding, let me highlight this again, Malaysia stands ready to expand our relations with Kazakhstan and other countries – be it in people-to-people connectivity or in trade and investment. I hope your participation in this Business Forum will confirm for you Malaysia’s offerings as a place to do business and a place perfect for leisure travel.
35) On that note, I thank you for your presence in making this Business Forum very meaningful. I hope the discussions and presentations today will materialise in mutual and fruitful business partnerships.