KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 — Malaysia has been ranked as the second most favourable country for foreign investment in Southeast Asia by European and United States (US) companies, according to a Standard Chartered study.
The banking group said this ranking was based on opportunities by the companies to establish or expand their sourcing, selling or operations over the next six to 12 months.
The Borderless Business Study was conducted in November and December last year, and more than 1,000 chief financial officers (CFOs) and senior treasury professionals of companies with turnover exceeding US$500 million (RM2.061 billion) located in the US, the United Kingdom, Germany and France took part in the survey.
The study found that Asia remained a major growth region, with over 85 per cent of respondents operating and implementing in Asia or considering it for business activities.
Africa and the Middle East also saw a marginal increase of up to four per cent as potential growth markets over the next six to 12 months, Standard Chartered said in a statement today.
“With regulations noted as the number one concern among respondents looking to expand overseas, it could suggest an opportunity for Malaysia to potentially increase foreign investment through greater awareness of the ease of doing business locally,” the bank said.
Standard Chartered Malaysia managing director and chief executive officer Abrar A Anwar, who described Malaysia as an important growth market for the banking group, said the group would continue to invest in technology here to help its retail, commercial and institutional banking clients prosper and grow.
“Such increased confidence in the country coupled with Standard Chartered’s strong presence in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, right at the heart of global trade routes, readily connects the world to Malaysia and Malaysia to the world.
“Sustainability, digitisation and the need to understand regulation are not just key to how business will be conducted, they are also opportunities for companies to increase operational efficiency, grow internationally and stay ahead of the competition,” he added.
CFOs and senior treasury professionals participating in the survey indicated that despite uncertainty caused by the global pandemic and its associated economic repercussions, overseas markets remained key to growth.
The study also revealed that incremental emphasis towards investing in digital technology, unlocking trapped cash and increased focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in relation to trade and supply chains.
Companies seeking to expand or strengthen their international operations said that understanding the regulatory requirements in overseas markets remained the greatest obstacle (35 per cent), followed by the need to build relationships with suppliers and adapt supply chain logistics (21 per cent).
As companies look ahead into a post-pandemic environment, the respondents’ top three priorities have indicated slight shifts away from issues including supply chain failure (50 per cent) and the need for liquidity (47 per cent) to an increase in investing in digitisation to mobilise liquidity (66 per cent) and ESG (23 per cent).