Malaysia has secured a record RM170 billion worth of investment commitments from China.
The amount, the biggest so far from China, is from a total of 19 memoranda of understanding (MOU) sealed between businesses in China and Malaysia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said this shows investors’ confidence in Malaysia.
“We have achieved the commitment of RM170 billion in investments from China. I must thank the investors for giving their cooperation and for giving us confidence.
“This is historic. It is good for Malaysia and the future,” he said when announcing the news at the Malaysia-China Business Forum 2023, which was attended by some 1,000 business leaders from both countries, here on Saturday (April 1).
The prime minister is currently on the last of his three-day visit here to deepen strategic bilateral political and trade relationship with China.
Earlier, in his keynote address at the forum, Anwar urged Chinese investors and business leaders to leverage the strong bilateral ties and seize the vast opportunities being offered by the current government to invest in Malaysia.
“I assure you that under my watch, we will ensure that the ease of doing business and undertaking investments in Malaysia will be at optimal level.
“So, build more partnerships with Malaysian companies, particularly in strategic sectors to advance deeper interlinkages,” he said.
China remains Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 14 consecutive years, with total trade of US$110.6 billion (RM488 billion) in 2022.
On the investment front, China was the biggest foreign direct investor in Malaysia last year, with investments amounting to US$12.5 billion (RM55.16 billion).
According to statistics from Malaysia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, total exports to China increased 9.4% to RM210.62 billion (US$47.84 billion) in 2022, while total imports from China stood at RM276.50 billion (US$62.78 billion) in the same year, or an increase of 20.7% compared to the previous year.
Anwar, who is also the finance minister, said Malaysia’s position as the preferred investment destination has been solidified further with the presence of renowned Chinese companies such as Risen Energy, Huawei, Longi Solar, Bytedance, Jinko Solar, EVE Energy, Alliance Steel, Alibaba Group, Geely Auto Group, Xiamen University and many others.
“It is my hope that these companies, which have invested in strategic areas, will continue to expand their presence and work with local partners, as well as the government to build new capabilities, develop key industries, and create high-paying jobs for Malaysians,” said the prime minister.
He said Malaysia will continue to work with China to deepen existing cooperation in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and to expand economic cooperation in new growth areas, such as green development and digital economy.
On the regional front, Anwar said Malaysia will work closely with other Asean member states to ensure that the Asean-China Free Trade Area (ACFTA) benefits all parties involved.
He said the timely upgrade of the ACFTA will not only deepen trade and investment within the region but also broaden economic benefits with the inclusion of new sectors, namely digital economy, green economy, competition and consumer protection, as well as micro, small and medium enterprises.
“At the same time, the Straits of Malacca will be kept free and safe for economic and trade flows and international stability.
“It is our moral and historical duty to keep it that way,” he said.
The prime minister also witnessed the exchange of 19 MOUs between the companies involved.
Among notable MOUs were the heads of agreement between DRB-Hicom Bhd and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co, Ltd on a proposed joint venture on the development and commercialisation of an automotive high-technology valley in Tanjung Malim, Perak, for new energy vehicles, and one between the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia and the China Chamber of Commerce for import and export of machinery and electronic products.
Other MOUs sealed were between Digital Way Group Sdn Bhd, China Silk Road Group Ltd and China Kairous Capital to jointly establish a Malaysia-China digital and development fund in China and Malaysia, as well as one on a proposed development of a waste-to-energy plant in Malaysia
Meanwhile, International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz said the MOUs signified the importance of collaboration between companies from China and Malaysia, which would result in a huge spillover for the ecosystem.
“This visit is a very productive one, and a step in the right direction for us,” Zafrul told the Malaysian media after the event.
He said the ministry will monitor these MOUs to ensure that the commitments are fully realised.
Besides Tengku Zafrul, the prime minister’s delegation to China also comprised Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir, Transport Minister Anthony Loke, Local Government Development Minister Nga Kor Ming; Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang; and Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.