SHAH ALAM: Malaysia’s economic prospects will be very positive if the country can capture the Asean market as well as lure in investors from these nations, according to International Trade and Industry Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.
Ong said this could be made possible via establishing strong economic ties with Malaysia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners in the Asean region.
Ong, who officiated the ground-breaking ceremony of the Central Plaza @ I-City shopping centre project yesterday, said this trend was already evident in last year’s trade patterns.
“From our trade data last year, a total of 65% was from the FTA countries. It is because once you sign the FTA, the tax barriers and non-tax barriers will be removed and this will facilitate trade,” Ong told a press conference after the ground-breaking ceremony.
He added that this percentage could be increased to 70% or more this year.
“We hope more FTA partners will start to deal directly and trade with us,” said Ong, stressing that emphasis given to the local service industry would attract tourists to purchase Malaysian-made products.
The Central Plaza project is a joint venture between I-Bhd and Bangkok-based Central Pattana Public Co Ltd.
Central Pattana holds a 60% stake in the project with an RM850mil investment, while I-Bhd holds the remaining 40%.
According to Ong, Central Pattana’s RM850mil investment would attract tourists from the neighbouring countries into Malaysia.
“We also hope more countries will come to Malaysia to invest. Asean has a population of 620 million people and if we can capture this market, it will be very positive for our economic outlook,” said Ong.
Besides Asean countries, Malaysia has also signed the FTAs with India, Pakistan and Turkey.
On the same day, Ong also witnessed the signing of an agreement between I-Bhd and Setiakon Builders for the 8Kia Peng@KLCC condominium project.