Malaysia woos Britain with new growth areas

LONDON - Malaysia is emphasising on new growth areas, including those that provide high-income jobs, when it comes to wooing more investment from Britain.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin listed the areas as those in the high technology, high value-added, knowledge-based and skills-intensive industries.

"Our emphasis now is on talent, creativity and innovation. This will not be possible without inflows of new foreign direct investments," he said in his speech during a roundtable meeting with 30 captains of the industry here yesterday.

The Government, said Muhyiddin, believed that there were many opportunities for investment by British companies given the strong level of technological expertise and innovative culture.

These companies, he said, included those in the aerospace industry, bio-manufacturing and pharmaceuticals, chemicals and the energy and environmental technologies.

"The Malaysian Government will continue to pursue pro-business, prudent and pragmatic policies in order to ensure that our investment climate remains attractive for businessmen to not only conduct their normal business activities but also expand and diversify their existing operations," he said.

Britain, he said, continued to be an important trading and investment partner, with it being Malaysia's 18th largest trading partner in 2012 with total trade at US$4.42bil (S$5.6 billion), adding that the figure between January and June this year was US$2.29bil.

The country is also the eighth largest foreign investor in Malaysia's manufacturing sector at over US$2bil with the major sectors of British investments including the chemical and chemicals product, petrochemicals, electrical and electronics and non-metallic minerals products.

British businessmen, said Muhyiddin, should look at Malaysia as a strategic business partner within the ASEAN framework, given that the group - at almost 600 million population and a combined US$1.9 trillion in gross domestic product - was fast emerging as a potentially huge regional market for goods and services.

Meanwhile, Britain's Minister of State for Trade and Industry Lord Green said the meeting underscored the importance of the burgeoning relationship between both countries.Among Malaysian-driven investments he cited was the Battersea Power Station project.

The meeting was attended by captains of industry including Rolls Royce PLC industrial vice-president Robert Watson, Tesco PLC government affairs director Simon Butler, BAE Systems regional vice-president for South-East Asia and India Chris Nunn and London Chamber of Commerce deputy chief executive officer Peter Bishop.