Malaysia Eyes Increased Investment From Obama Visit

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KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 – Malaysia is hopeful that the state visit by United States (US) President Barack Obama will boost foreign investment inflows, especially from the US, to this country, said Malaysia’s special envoy to the US Datuk Seri Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis. He said Obama’s presence here would enhance investor confidence, particularly among American companies, that Malaysia provides a conducive environment for business against the backdrop of political stability. Another element that works in Malaysia’s favour, he said, is the fact that Malaysia is relatively well protected from natural disasters. “With the president coming to town, hopefully it’ll draw more investments to our country and we can talk about new trade (activities) with America,” he told in interview ahead of the April 26-28 visit.

Jamaluddin, a former Malaysian envoy to the US and currently advisor in the Prime Minister’s Department, noted that increased investments would spell more job creations for the country. Jamaluddin pointed out that Malaysia is keen on having more high-end jobs and it is important to ensure American high-tech industries continue to enhance their presence in this Southeast Asian nation. Obama is expected to arrive on Saturday afternoon for the visit to Malaysia, the first by a sitting US president in 48 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson’s trip back in 1966. It is part of Obama’s four-nation Asian tour that also encompasses Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. His tentative itinerary includes holding a meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and attending a state banquet hosted in his honour by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah.

Also in the programme is a visit to the National Mosque and Islamic Arts Museum as well as engaging with young Southeast Asian leaders in a town hall-style session at Universiti Malaya. Jamaluddin also said that Kuala Lumpur may also take the opportunity to highlight its stand over the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) trade talks. “We may be able to address some of the challenges in the TPPA negotiations,” he said, adding that the trade agreement with 11 other Pacific Rim countries would potentially benefit Malaysia. Jamaluddin said he believes the TPPA could eventually benefit the country’s economy and provide sustainable high incomes for the rural communities. According to data from the International Trade and Industry Ministry, Malaysia’s exports to the US for 2003-2013 totalled US$247.5 billion while imports amounted to US$173.3 billion.

Trade officials said this attested to the competitiveness of Malaysian exporters and the overall importance of the US market. Other data indicated that between 2003 and 2013, Americans invested over US$13 billion in Malaysia. Jamaluddin also expressed high hopes for the success of Obama’s visit in terms of enhancing trade and investment linkages between Kuala Lumpur and Washington. “The issue has to be economy, economy and economy as from that, jobs could be created for young people, more investment brought into this country and we can export more products to America, and most importantly all this will help sustain our economy,” he said. Meanwhile, on Bernama Radio24’s Dalam Radar (In the Radar) programme today, Jamaluddin said Obama’s visit would be a most valuable promotion of Malaysia as an investment destination.

As a trading nation, he said, Malaysia needs good relations with the world’s largest economies to enable it to become a premier investment destination. “Something must have drawn Obama to Malaysia. If it was not in America’s interest, Malaysia would not have been chosen among the Asean countries for this visit,” he said. There were occasions in the past, however, when Malaysia was seen as uneasy with US policies, he said. “But Obama is so different from previous presidents. This is the right time for Malaysia to welcome the presence of a leader from America, a nation with a huge market and potential investors,” he added.

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