KUALA LUMPUR: China will likely remain as Malaysia’s largest trading partner, looking at the current trend, said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming.
He said even with the spectre of the US-China trade war looming, Malaysia-China trade continued to grow at a higher rate compared with other trading partners.
In a statement today, Ong said from January to November 2018, Malaysia’s total trade rose 6.2% as compared with the same period in 2017, contributed by 6.9% growth in exports and 5.3% rise in imports.
During the period, Malaysia-China total trade expanded by 8.5%, with an 11.3% increase in exports and 6.3% growth in imports.
He said Malaysia was also poised to attract more investments and benefit from import substitution as a result of the US-China trade war.
Ong said there were about 300 out of the top 500 Chinese companies listed by Fortune Magazine which had yet to invest in Malaysia.
“These are the companies that we want to entice to Malaysia by showing off our natural and strategic advantages as an investment location,“ he said.
From January to September 2018, approved manufacturing foreign direct investment (FDI) from China had already reached RM15.62 billion.
“More than 50% of the approved manufacturing FDI from Chinese companies came after the 14th General Election (in May 2018), showing that companies from China continue to demonstrate confidence in the Malaysian economy under the new government,“ he added.
He said a recent study by Nomura Global Economics ranked Malaysia as the top country, based on its aggregated Nomura Import Substitution Index scores, that could benefit in particular from the exports of electronic integrated circuits, liquefied natural gas and communication apparatus.
Meanwhile, the Economist Intelligence Unit projected Malaysia to be a beneficiary in diverted production and investment in the automotive, as well as information and communications technology products.
“While a prolonged US-China trade war would not be welcomed by a small and open economy like Malaysia, there are mitigating factors that will somewhat cushion the impact for us,“ Ong added.