US firms keen to reinvest, thanks to PH govt’s transparent approach

KUALA LUMPUR 24 APRIL 2019. Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif AmMetLife, Ramzi Toubassy (kanan) mengadakan taklimat ringkas mengenai hala tuju American Malaysian Chamber Of Commerce (Amcham Malaysia) di Malaysia, sambil ditemani Pengarah Eksekutif Amchan Malaysia, Siobhan M Das di pejabat AmMetLife, Menara Sentrum, Jalan Tun Sambathan. NSTP/NIK HARIFF HASSAN

KUALA LUMPUR: The current government has set itself apart from the past administration by being more transparent and open to a collaborative working environment, says American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM).

These were the key attributes that could help Malaysia play catch up with advanced economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong in attracting foreign direct investments (FDIs), it said.

"Malaysia is sitting in a very strong position and is a very resilient country. So, now it is the time to build upon it and make sure that the environment is welcoming to businesses,” AmCham president Ramzi Toubassy told NSTP group. Also present was Amcham executive director Siobhan M Das.

Toubassy said Malaysia has always been business-friendly, AmCham had never had the ease of access to the government in the past.

“In the past, they would come up with policies and inform us what the policies were and it would be too late for us to advocate,” he said.

“I think the new government has been open to collaborative model of working. That is the difference I have seen. The Pakatan Harapan government is more receptive to questions and they are more likely to reach out and understand something that is evolving,” he added.

Toubassy said Malaysia ess a good country to invest in but had been lagging behind advanced economies such as Singapore and Hong Kong in drawing FDIs because of transparency.

“The transparency we talked about is when the government issued policies without consultation, the implementation of policies becomes problematic because it does not really understand what and how it is going to come into conflicts in the business model,” he said.

Toubassy said failure to 'listen' was another factor that would create uncertainties, which would in turn discourage or pushe investments away to other emerging competitors.

"The emerging competitors for Malaysia are going to be Indonesia and Vietnam. I see that Indonesia being the bigger competitor because the country is very similar to Malaysia in a way. Currently, they are behind in terms of technology and infrastructure.

"So, I think this is the right time for Malaysia to be open to a more collaborative working environment, otherwise US companies may think of moving away to Indonesia," he added.

Toubassy said US companies, already based in Malaysia, are reaffirming their commitments to the country with major investments already in the pipeline.

For example, he said, MetLife has nearly US$1 billion invested in Malaysia, about US$500 million in government bonds and government related entities.

“We are also building a new center of excellence for finance in Kuala Lumpur which will employ over 80 people, predominantly Malaysians,” said Toubassy, who is also AmMetLife Insurance Bhd chief executive officer.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in a recent session moderated by AmCham vice-president Stanley R Clayton, maintained Malaysia’s stand as a business-and investor-friendly country, which would open its doors to positive development and growth.

When asked on Malaysia’s position on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Mahathir said Malaysia had yet to ratify pending a review on the agreement pertaining to its unique slice of economic pie reserved for the Bumiputera community.

Source: New Straits Times