Malaysia-Japan bilateral relations offers huge potential: Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: The strengthening of bilateral economic relations between Malaysia and Japan offers huge potential for both countries, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak.

"Malaysia, with its diversified, robust and open economy is the perfect gateway to Asean for Japanese firms," he said at the groundbreaking ceremony of the Bukit Bintang City Centre (BBCC) here today.

Najib said the government would work closely with the Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia, Dr Makio Miyagawa, to facilitate the entry of more investors and tourists from the country.

In 2016, Japan ranked Malaysia as its fourth largest trading partner with bilateral trade at RM120 billion.

The Prime Minister said the strong trade and investment relations between both nations were underpinned by the Malaysia-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement.

Malaysia and Japan will mark the 60th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations this year.

In giving an example of Malaysia-Japan collaboration, Najib quoted the BBCC project which has managed to attract the leading real estate group in the land of the rising sun, Mitsui Fudisan Co Ltd, to invest in what will be the mega project’s RM1.6 billion retail mall.

Located on a 7.85ha site on what was the old Pudu Jail, the BBCC is worth RM8.7 billion in gross development value.

It comprises a retail mall, an entertainment hub, a four-star hotel, two blocks of strata offices, and five blocks of serviced apartments, and a 80-storey three-in-one signature tower housing corporate offices, which has a five-star hotel and luxury residences.

Phase one, involving 50% of the project, is scheduled for completion by December 2020.

Najib said BBCC together with Mitsui Mall is yet another model of how Malaysia's Economic Transformation Programme is bearing fruit in terms of attracting foreign investments.

He pointed out that the Japanese were already among the top foreign buyers for the residential units in the BBCC project.

"Malaysia remains the top retirement destination for Japanese, thanks to our stable economic and political environment, temperate climate and affordable living standards," he said.

As an open and diversified country, Najib said Malaysia continued to be an attractive investment destination.

"We welcome foreign direct investments, irrespective of whether from Japan, China, Saudi Arabia, the United States or Singapore.

"If you add value to the Malaysian economy, provide more jobs, bring in new technologies and add to the export value, among others, you are certainly very welcome to invest in the country," he added. — Bernama