KUALA LUMPUR – Should the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) fall through, Malaysia may look into the possibility of pursuing bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with TPP members, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
The country would also prioritise strengthening economic integration within Asean, as well as push for the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, he said in a statement yesterday.
Mustapa, who led the Malaysian delegation to the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, from Jan 17-20, was asked about Malaysia’s strategy if the TPPA failed to materialise.
He spoke to the press after a luncheon in Davos, attended by 50 existing and potential international investors from various sectors and countries.
It was jointly hosted by Khazanah Nasional Bhd and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).
Against the backdrop of rising protectionist sentiments in a number of countries, the minister assured the international community that the country was not in retreat, stressing that Malaysia remained open for business.
“Foreign investments have played a major role in our economic development and we will continue to welcome high quality investments, especially in catalytic subsectors.
“Namely chemicals, electrical and electronics, and machinery and equipment, as well as other high potential growth areas such as aerospace, medical devices and digital economy,” he added.
Mustapa said Malaysia has been a major beneficiary of foreign direct investment, which had contributed to the country’s exports given that a large number of foreign companies operating in Malaysia were 100% export-oriented.
“The presence of foreign companies in our economy has also provided our local small and medium enterprises access to valuable technology transfers and exchange of know-how, which are crucial in developing their capabilities to allow them to be part of the global supply chain,” said the minister.
During the luncheon, Mustapa responded to several questions from the floor, mainly on the direction of the Malaysian economy, especially in the context of US President Donald Trump’s administration and the current status of the economic integration of Asean.
Mustapa urged the investors to take advantage of the numerous opportunities available in the dynamic region of Asean by using Malaysia as the gateway.
Citing an example, he said that a large number of foreign companies, including Novartis, Roche, General Electric and Standard Chartered, had made Malaysia their regional hub.
He said Malaysia’s strengths included its political stability, strong economic fundamentals and track record, business-friendly policies, excellent infrastructure, strategic position within Asean, and facilitation of investment through MIDA.
“Despite the current challenging climate, our gross domestic product growth rate remains among the highest in the region and emerging markets,” he said.
Also present at the luncheon were Khazanah Nasional managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, AirAsia Bhd chairman Tan Sri Tony Fernandes and CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak.