Malaysia hopes to increase investment from China and expects tourist growth to outpace last year's, after reinforcing its commitment to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) with a revised deal on the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).
Malaysia was among the first countries to give a positive response to the BRI. And Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad this week attends the second Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.
Malaysia wants to continue working with China and ensures that the BRI is a success, according to Darell Leiking, Malaysia's Minister of International Trade and Investment.
Leiking said that Malaysia is consistent on achieving fair outcomes, when it comes to cooperation along the BRI. “Our Prime Minister has been very consistent on this one. He said that we support the BRI but want to make sure projects can be done fairly,” Leiking stressed.
Meanwhile, the minister hopes for a closer bilateral tie by saying “we want China to look into Malaysia as a partner it can rely on.”
Malaysia is one of the hottest destinations for Chinese tourists. According to data from Malaysian Tourism Promotion Board, the country attracted 2.9 million Chinese tourists in 2018, up 28.9 percent year-on-year. The tourism revenue stood at 84.1 billion ringgit (about 20.7 billion U.S. dollars), 2.4 percent higher than 82.1 billion ringgit in the previous year.
Leiking keeps positive on tourism this year, expecting the growth of Chinese tourists to Malaysia to be faster than last year.
Meanwhile, China is Malaysia's largest trading partner and a big investor in the country. The minister considered Malaysia as a hospitable place to do business. As Beijing and Putrajaya has announced new terms for the ECRL, the minister believed that Chinese investments into Malaysia are set to grow.
Based on the revised deal, cost has been cut by more than one-third to about 10.68 billion U.S. dollars from the previous 16 billion U.S. dollars, with about 5.3 billion U.S. dollars paid in advance. And Malaysia will contribute more raw materials and labor – up to 70 percent, with the remaining 30 percent coming from China and other Asian countries.
“We could negotiate further on what was done by the previous regime. Chinese President Xi said China understands the situation and wants to help Malaysia. Our PM took upon it to us to make sure we get fair and equitable deal for both countries,” he told CGTN.
And he noted that Malaysia prefers investments in manufacturing and technology, adding that “the most welcome” investment is about training and employment.
“We want to ensure that people from rural area are able to get training and employment,” Leiking addressed.
Moreover, Malaysian PM is calling for productivity improvements in the economy, citing three priorities: increasing export capacity, improving market efficiency and also making it easier to do business.
“We do know there are some complaints on working visa and bureaucracy,” the minister acknowledged, saying that Malaysia will improve the ease of doing business.
“We want to ensure when foreign people, investment come, our agencies will work together to make it easy and straight to the point,” Leiking mentioned.