Expert reveals Malaysia’s edge


By LAM LI
  • Nation
  • Saturday, 03 Jul 2004

BY LAM LI

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will be able to face up to the challenge posed by China as a rising economic giant through the expansion of technology capacity, a US-based economist said. 

Dr Wing Thye Woo, who has advised governments on macroeconomic issues, said a survey showed that Malaysia ranked higher than China in technology capacity. 

This edge could offset the impact of capital outflow when investors relocated their productions to China, he said in his talk entitled Meeting the China Challenge: Malaysia's Economic and Business Response here yesterday. The talk was organised by Institute of Strategic and International Studies Centre for China Studies. 

Malaysia was ranked 18th out of 60 countries in the survey and China 48th. United States came out tops.  

Dr Woo, who is the University of California's economic professor and special advisor for East Asia Economies in the Millennium Project of the United Nations, spelled out four strategies for Malaysia to “meet the China challenge”. 

They are:  

  • ADOPTING technology policy to expand indigenous innovations;  

  • MOBILISING universities to work with public and private sectors on research and development; 

  • SERVICING the China market; and 

  • RESTRUCTURING wealth distribution policy. 

    He said Malaysia, being a tropical country, had great potential to become a centre for tropical agriculture production and medicinal plants. 

    “To avoid going back to a primary industries economy, Malaysia – which is ahead of many Asean countries and China in technological field – should invest in R&D and sell the findings and technologies. 

    “For example, aquaculture is a lucrative business but it caused many ecological problems; Malaysia can develop technologies to overcome this problem and sell them as value-added products and services.”  

    Dr Woo said Malaysia could also present itself as the “best bachelor on the block” for foreign investors looking for a “China+1” plan. 

    “Malaysia has to work its way to become the '1' by providing better infrastructure, technology ability and skilled workers,” he said.  

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