KUANTAN - Despite Malaysia's encouraging economic performance, the country is not impervious to external shocks that may derail efforts to achieve the desired investment and economic targets, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
He said Malaysia, as a relatively small nation without the benefit of a sizeable domestic demand, would be susceptible to economic vagaries and volatile external trade if it continued to depend on commodities and raw resources.
He said the Government had embarked on the journey to transform Malaysia from a largely agricultural and natural resource-exporting nation to a highly competitive, industrialised high-income nation.
"This is thrust upon the need to enhance Malaysia's economic sustainability, resilience and robustness, by cultivating a knowledge-based economy which adds value to commodities via innovation, competency and technology," he said at the groundbreaking ceremony of BASF Petronas Chemicals' Integrated Aroma Ingredients Complex here yesterday.
He said the Government was conscious of the importance of investments in driving the nation's high-income aspirations, which would in turn enhance living standards and improve the people's quality of life.
Najib said that at the apex of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) was the notion of a private sector-led economy, premised upon economic feasibility, efficiency and productivity and free from unnecessary government interventions and encumbrances.
"On the other hand, the Government will play an active role by putting in place pro-business policies and processes to encourage both domestic and foreign direct investments into Malaysia," he said.
In lauding the efforts by both Petronas and BASF to invest some RM1.5bil (S$578 million) in the project, Najib said the investment demonstrated the strength of partnership "between BASF, the world's leading chemical company, and Petronas, Malaysia's national oil company".
The Government, he added, was confident that the complex, located in the Gebeng Industrial Zone here and scheduled to go on-stream in 2016, would position Gebeng at the epicentre of Asia-Pacific's high-value specialty chemicals production.
"I believe this project, which features state-of-the-art German technology and innovation in producing specialty chemicals in the form of aroma ingredients, truly epitomises our strategy of a high-income, knowledge-based industry.
"I also hope that everyone will continue to support Petronas in its effort to encourage Malaysia's rapid economic development towards a high-income nation," he said.
Also present at the ceremony were Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, Petronas Group president and CEO Tan Sri Shamsul Azhar Abbas, state secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad Safian Ismail and BASF Petronas Chemicals chairman Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin.