Malaysia needs to take advantage of its open economy status and strengthen the investment within the Asean-member countries amid the global trade tension, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said.
“I don’t think the trade tension between the US and China will come to an easy solution. Even with the negotiations that are being taken by both parties, the tension is still running high and affects the predictability of the US government,” said Dr Ong at the plenary lunch session held on the first day of the Selangor International Business Summit (SIBS) 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.
Ong addressed the concern of many observers that trade tensions between the United States and China could escalate into a full-blown trade war, with ramifications not only for bilateral economic ties but also for the global economy.
“In a short run, Malaysia will definitely be affected even though we are the second most open economy in the Asean as our trade-to-GDP ratio is more than 100%,” he said.
Ong added that the non-tariff barriers remain as one of the major hurdles in solidifying the linkages between countries in Asean.
“Many of the trade investors to Asean countries are experiencing the non-tariff barriers, which is what we are trying to address with our Asean counterparts at the moment,” said Ong.
Ong had urged businesses to step forward and work with the government to address this issue in order to accelerate the efforts to reduce and eliminate the non-tariff barriers.
He had also said that the people-to-people and business-to-business relationships, as well as the exchange of ideas between Asean countries need to improve. “This is where business and even trade can thrive.”
Ong stressed that Malaysia needs to be more opened to welcome various regional champions from other countries in Asean such as Thailand, Singapore and Indonesia to have a general exchange of ideas on businesses and trades on a global level.
“Without the exchange of ideas from these various non-governmental agencies, it’d be difficult for us to play a role in pushing Asean into the next level.”