Malaysia: Harness our country’s growth

| June 28, 2012 | 0 Comments
Malaysia has a vibrant business sector, centred around its tallest skyscraper, the Petronas Twin Towers.

Malaysia has a vibrant business sector, centred around its tallest skyscraper, the Petronas Twin Towers.

Malaysia is one of the top five most competitive countries in the world for international trade, according to the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2011. Despite the world economic downturn, Malaysia enjoyed a trade surplus of US$38.97 billion in 2011, an increase of 8.7 percent in total trade from the previous year.

Trade between Malaysia and Canada is not large. Malaysia’s trade with Canada was only US$1.83 billion or 0.44 percent of its global trade in 2011. Likewise, Canada’s trade with Malaysia was only US$2.94 billion or 0.32 percent of Canada’s total global trade.
Malaysia is one of the world’s leading exporters of semi-conductor devices and electrical goods and appliances, which are the top exports to Canada. Others include furniture, rubber products and metal manufactured items as well as textiles and clothing. In 2011, exports to Canada were valued at US$909 million or 0.4 percent of Malaysia’s global exports.
Imports from Canada were mainly chemical products, electrical and electronic parts, machinery equipment, processed food and transport equipment. In 2011, exports from Canada to Malaysia totalled US$774 million or 0.17 percent of Canada’s global exports.
Canada is a source of foreign investments in both the manufacturing and services sector in Malaysia. Canadian companies such as the Bank of Nova Scotia, Talisman Energy Inc., Manulife Financial Canada and Research in Motion (RIM) maintain branches or regional headquarters in Malaysia. New investments in 2011 were mainly in electrical and electronic products, machinery and equipment, non-metallic minerals products, rubber products and furniture and fixtures. Notable Canadian manufacturing companies in Malaysia are Celestica, ATS Automation, Teknion and Solmax.
Malaysia is keen to attract high technology companies from Canada to establish itself as the region’s engineering supporting outsourcing hub as well as a specialised high-value, high-quality machinery and equipment production hub.
Malaysia is a competitive investment destination for many reasons. Its competitiveness ranking speaks for itself: A.T. Kearney’s 2012 FDI Confidence Index ranks it the 10th most attractive destination for FDI; the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report 2012 puts it in 18th position, ahead of Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Belgium; and A.T. Kearney’s 2011 Global Services Location Index calls Malaysia the third best destination in the world for outsourcing activities, after India and China.
The government ensures a business environment that provides companies with the opportunities for growth and profits. Foreign investors can hold 100 percent of the equity in all investments in new projects, are allowed to employ expatriates where such skills are not available and are offered a wide range of tax incentives such as the Pioneer Status and the Investment Tax Allowance. Industrial relations are harmonious, with minimal trade disputes.
Malaysia offers an educated workforce — the quality is one of the best in the region. Literacy levels are high, workers entering the job market have at least 11 years of basic education.
The cost of studying in my country is very affordable and Malaysia would like to host more international students, including Canadians. Many Malaysians have also graduated from Canadian universities and they not only provide valuable connections to Canada, but also the skills sought by global companies.
Malaysia has one of the most developed infrastructures among the industrializing countries of Asia. There are more than 200 industrial parks and 18 free industrial zones, along with special incentives to attract investments and the creation of several special economic zones such as the Iskandar Development Region. The country not only provides the strategic location with the physical and economic infrastructure for international investments but also the right ingredients for people to invest, work, live and play. The telecommunications network uses the latest digital and fibre-optics technology to provide high-quality telecommunication services at competitive prices.
Malaysia’s market-oriented economy has created a vibrant business environment. The rapid embrace of the knowledge economy allows companies to operate in an environment that is geared toward information technology. A well-developed financial banking sector and sophisticated financial facilities are available. There are robust and highly competitive small-and-medium scale industries.
Malaysia also offers quality of life. Expatriates will enjoy a safe and comfortable living environment with modern amenities, good health care and medical facilities, excellent educational institutions and world-class recreational sports facilities — at costs much lower than in their own countries. The diversity of cultures, a heritage derived from its racial mix of some of the oldest civilizations — Malay, Chinese and Indian — has turned Malaysia into a microcosm of Asia. Most Malaysians are able to speak at least two languages.
Life in Malaysia is an unsurpassed adventure. From beaches to national parks to shop-until-you-drop experiences to culinary delights and Formula One races, Malaysia has it all, including island retreats and the best diving spot in the world, Sipadan. It is not surprising, therefore, that Malaysia has become one of the Top 10 most visited countries in the world today.


Dato’ Hayati Ismail is Malaysia’s high commissioner to Canada. Reach her at or (613) 241-5182.

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