BANGKOK: Malaysia has maintained its trade and economic policies, and friendship with other countries, despite undergoing the first change of government in 61 years, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The prime minister said Malaysia was looking forward to attracting foreign investors, including from Thailand, and was in the midst of fine tuning rules, regulations and laws to spur more investment into the country.
“Despite the change of government, the country’s approach in terms of economy, trade and friendship remains the same. The policies are retained,” he said in his keynote address during a dialogue session with Thai corporate leaders here today.
Dr Mahathir said the administration had maintained a business-friendly policy and would do its best to accommodate investors’ needs.
“When people (investors) come to invest in Malaysia, the government will try to help as much as possible.
“Of course there are rules, regulations and laws that have to be complied with; we are streamlining all these to facilitate more investments from foreign countries.
“We hope that the move (to streamline) will attract investors to come into Malaysia.
“Malaysia has always welcomed foreign direct investments.”
Dr Mahathir said, during its early years, Malaysia had invited foreigners to come to the country with capital and adopted their technology and market knowledge.
“Since then, Malaysia has changed from being an agriculture-based country with some mining activities to an industrialised country producing industrial goods.
“However, that is far from satisfactory as we (Asians) are still importing from outside the region.
“The Asean region has a huge market and this needs to be explored... if possible locally-produced ones.
“We should sit together and identify what we can produce within our countries.
“Then we can trade in greater volume and value with each other better,” he said.
Describing Asean as the second biggest market after China, Dr Mahathir said the region, with a population of 600 million had huge potential, but the per capita income was still slow.
On Malaysia’s potential to forge stronger cooperation with Thailand, he said: “We are close to each other with good roads, railway facilities and communication is easy, and we know each other well.
“When we want to do business, we prefer to do it with people whom we know well... with strangers, we are not sure (sometimes) what will happen.
“We must look at efforts to facilitate two-way trade,” he said.
Dr Mahathir cited the example of the 24-hour operations of the Bukit Kayu Hitam Immigration, Customs, Quarantine and Security (ICQS) complex and Sadao Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) complex, which he said would help to boost cross-border trade between the two neighbours.
Also present during the dialogue were Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, International Trade, Industry Minister Datuk Ignatius Darrel Leiking and Thailand’s Joint Standing Committee on Commerce, Industry and Banking chairman Kalin Sarasin.Source: New Straits Times