EU, US firms rank Malaysia second most favourable in Asean

Standard Chartered Malaysia managing director and CEO Abrar A Anwar said: “Building on our strong legacy of 146 years in Malaysia, we are deeply committed to facilitate the economic growth of the nation."

KUALA LUMPUR: European and US companies ranked Malaysia second most favourable Southeast Asian country for opportunities to establish or expand their sourcing, selling or operations over the next six to 12 months.

According to a Standard Chartered study, “Borderless Business”, chief financial officers (CFOs) and treasurers in the US, the UK, Germany and France indicate that, despite uncertainty caused by the global pandemic and its associated economic repercussions, overseas markets remain key to growth.

The study also revealed incremental emphasis towards investing in digital technology, unlocking trapped cash and increased focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in relation to trade and supply chains.

“With regulations noted as the number one concern amongst respondents looking to expand overseas, it could suggest an opportunity for Malaysia to potentially increase foreign investment through greater awareness of the ease of doing business locally, ” the findings of the survey showed.

Conducted between November and December 2020, over 1,000 CFOs and senior treasury professionals of companies with a turnover exceeding US$500mil in the US, UK, Germany and France took part in the survey. Each country was equally represented with 25% of respondents.

In 2020, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) reported that foreign direct investments in Malaysia stood at RM64.2bil.

The government’s newly launched Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDigital) is poised to accelerate Malaysia’s ambition to become a technologically advanced economy, bolstering the support for high profile foreign investment projects, including Fortune 500 companies in the manufacturing and services sector. These will account to a combined potential investment value of RM81.9bil.

Asia remains a major growth region (with over 85% operating and implementing in Asia or considering it for business activities). Africa and the Middle East also saw marginal increase (up 4%) as potential growth markets over the next six to 12 months.

Despite the ambition to expand internationally, understanding the regulatory requirements in overseas markets remains the greatest obstacle (35%) for companies who are looking to expand or strengthen their international operations.

This is followed by the need to build relationships with suppliers and adapt supply chain logistics (21%).

As companies look ahead into a post pandemic environment, the respondents’ top three priorities have indicated slight shifts away from issues including supply chain failure (50%) and the need for liquidity (47%) to an increase in investing in digitisation to mobilise liquidity (66%) and ESG (23%).

Standard Chartered Malaysia managing director and CEO Abrar A Anwar said: “Building on our strong legacy of 146 years in Malaysia, we are deeply committed to facilitate the economic growth of the nation.

“Malaysia is an important growth market for Standard Chartered and we will continue to invest in technology to help our retail, commercial and institutional banking clients prosper and grow. Such increased confidence in the country coupled with Standard Chartered’s strong presence in Asia, Africa and the Middle East – right at the heart of global trade routes – readily connects the world to Malaysia and Malaysia to the world.”

“Sustainability, digitisation and the need to understand regulation are not just key to how business will be conducted, they are also opportunities for companies to increase operational efficiency, grow internationally and stay ahead of the competition.”

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