Invest Malaysia 2018 – selling the story of economic resilience and strong fundamentals

Posted on 24 January 2018

Source: The Sun Daily

  Invest Malaysia 2018, which broke the norm and kick started the year rather than being the usual June affair, is expected to be a subdued two-day event with no major announcements for the local capital market, at a time when the general election is around the corner.

This year’s edition is enjoying an encouraging turnout though, with an estimated 2,000 plus participants, of whom more than 1,000 are local and regional fund managers from Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, Hong Kong, the US and the UK, with estimated assets under management of US$17.2 trillion (RM67.6 trillion).

Themed “Connecting Strengths, Advancing Performance”, this year’s largest annual capital market event showcases 61 Malaysian corporations ranging from large- to mid-cap listed companies with a total market capitalisation of RM767.6 billion.

At the opening of the event today, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak took the opportunity to sell Malaysia’s story of resilience and strong fundamentals and refuted claims that Malaysia is on the verge of bankruptcy.

This was partly aided by the reduction in reliance on oil and gas revenues, which have fallen from 41% in 2009 to 14% now.

“That truly saved Malaysia. Imagine if we were still so reliant on oil and gas revenue, it would have been catastrophic,” noted Najib.

He hit out at those who claimed that Malaysia is selling its sovereignty on the back of rising foreign direct investments (FDI) from China.

“While over time, we’ve had RM63 billion in FDI stock from China and Hong Kong, we’ve had more – RM70 billion in fact – from Japan, and you don’t hear anyone warning that we’re selling our country to the Japanese.”

Market players are generally positive on Malaysia’s prospects.

Invest KL CEO Datuk Zainal Amanshah believes Malaysia will remain as an attractive investment destination despite no new initiatives announced at Invest Malaysia 2018.

"It's not necessary to keep on introducing new stuff. The existing ones are sharpened, infrastructure is a key criterion for investors. All this was in the PM's speech," he said on the sidelines of the event.

"What constitutes the attractiveness of KL and Malaysia is still there. What's important is we're going after high-quality investments," he added.

Zainal said although foreign investors may take a wait-and-see approach ahead of the general election, there are still many companies looking for growth expansion.

"Election causes short-term anxiety. Things will continue to move in the second half of the year. Malaysia has been stable with good infrastructure and talent pool as well as clear policy. These are the essential ingredients that investors are looking at."

A foreign fund manager who declined to be named said the outlook for the Malaysian economy looks very positive. "The deficit seems to be under control with low unemployment. It sounds like an encouraging process."

He also noted that the ringgit strengthening against US dollar is a sign of investors taking a more positive stance on Malaysia. "Based on what we heard this morning, the Malaysian market is very positive."

Malayan Banking Bhd group president and CEO Datuk Abdul Farid Alias also remains upbeat on the Malaysian market. "The economic numbers look great. It's not necessary to have new announcements. As we can see the turnout is good." 

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