Selangor Journal
A worker stands on a container at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 11, 2021. — Picture by REUTERS

China inclusion in Look East Policy will boost trade, investment — Economist

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 22 — Malaysia’s Look East Policy with the inclusion of China will increase trading and investment cooperation between both countries, resulting in higher economic growth and revenue for Malaysia, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) said.

Economist Shankaran Nambiar said this would narrow Malaysia’s fiscal gap and potentially make Malaysia the new hub for investment in Asean.

“This is a clear signal that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim wants to intensify economic cooperation with China but without sacrificing national interests as China is a humanistic country that has no interest in domination and control.

“Besides, we have a history of trade that goes back couple of centuries. Now with China’s rise as a global player, it only stands to reason that Anwar wants to leverage on history.”

Nambiar said Malaysian companies should leverage China’s expertise in various fields and pursue joint ventures, especially in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, superfast trains, drones, electric vehicles (EV), electric batteries and quantum sensors as China is a leader in these new technologies.

On December 17, 2023, Anwar, who is also the finance minister, told Asahi Shimbun in an interview in Tokyo that Malaysia, which has long looked to Japan and South Korea as models for economic development, is now also interested in learning from China.

“I wouldn’t say ‘East’ (in this policy) means Japan and South Korea minus China. Now, when we say ‘Look East,’ it’s East (including China),” Anwar was quoted as saying by Japanese newspapers.

Echoing Nambiar, Bank Muamalat Malaysia Bhd chief economist Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said Malaysia and China could have a symbiotic relationship to broaden the market reach and transfers of technology, which would help to improve Malaysia’s productivity and competitiveness.

He said the idea to include China in the Look East Policy was wise as China has the economies scale in terms of the size of its home markets and they have proven themselves in respect to technological prowess.

“I believe that a smart partnership between China and Malaysia will undoubtedly create opportunities for the people of Malaysia to gain access to technological advancements capable of enhancing the competitiveness and productivity of the country.

“An example is the field of technology, where China has already made significant strides due to their efforts in allocating substantial resources for research and development (R&D),” he said.

Meanwhile, Putra Business School economic analyst Assoc Prof Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff said the move would also increase the confidence in Chinese businesses to invest in Malaysia and at the same time encourage more visitors and tourists from China to Malaysia.

He said it was the right move to include China in the policy, which was first introduced by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammed 41 years ago, considering the current economic situation where China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner and going to remain an important market in the foreseeable future.

“There are many areas that Malaysia should leverage on China’s expertise such as technological product, agro-food and rare earth elements extraction, refining and manufacturing technology.”

Additionally, he said Malaysia must ensure that there would be greater access and ease of business between the two countries via multiple corridors meant for international land-sea-air trade.

Malaysia University of Science Technology professor and dean Prof Geoffrey Williams believed Malaysia would certainly benefit from the land-sea corridor to ease trade and investment from China.

He said China is a major trading partner for Malaysia with 14 per cent of exports in November 2023 compared to 10.6 per cent for the United States while Asean remained the biggest with just under 30 per cent of exports.

“In practice, Malaysia always works with China in trade and investment so what Anwar has said is simply to clarify what already happens.

“China is also a big investor and collaborator with the Geely-Proton link being very successful,” he added.

– Bernama

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