Asean-HK FTA to attract more investors to Malaysia

HONG KONG: The just-signed Asean-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will enable Malaysia to attract more Hong Kong investors to its shores, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

With the agreement in place, it would not only mark the beginning of great business ties between Hong Kong and Asean countries but also make Hong Kong an export hub for Malaysian products into China and other countries.

"With the FTA in place, many incentives will be offered by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority to encourage more Hong Kong investors to invest in Malaysia," he told a press conference upon his arrival in Hong Kong on Monday.

Ahmad Zahid is scheduled to deliver a keynote address at the two-day Ninth World Chinese Economic Summit (WCES) organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute.

He also said there were many areas that Hong Kong investors could explore, among others, the development of the Southern Perak Region as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in the 2018 Budget recently.

Najib said the government would allocate RM1 billion to promote economic growth in the five main economic corridors which also included the development of the Southern Perak Region, Bukit Kayu Hitam Duty-Free Zone, port and industrial park in Tok Bali, Kelantan, and access road to Baleh Dam, Sarawak.

Ahmad Zahid said both Malaysia and Hong Kong must take several steps to seize trade opportunities in Asean.

Although there is a country that serves as the redistribution centre in Asean for Hong Kong's products and services, Malaysia can assume a bigger role now with the establishment of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) and its port facilities, which could turn the country into a hub for exports, the deputy prime minister said.

Ahmad Zahid also said Alibaba Group Founder Jack Ma were among those who utilised Malaysia as a hub for the transportation and distribution of products from several Asean countries for the global market, especially China.

He said this was not only a good opportunity for Malaysian companies but also small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which can increase their output and sell their products via the DFTZ platform.

Ahmad Zahid said that these were new initiatives with the onslaught of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 which was not only based on conventional business but offered the avenue for SMEs to be creative in coming out with products for new markets.

The deputy prime minister pointed out that from a marketing point of view "we cannot operate in a small market space".

On markets, Ahmad Zahid said: "We have to get out of the cocoon and move out to a bigger space which will offer Malaysian businessmen the opportunity to sell their products via Hong Kong and what more with the cooperation of Alibaba.

"I think this FTA is very crucial for SMEs to expand the reach for their products," he said.

On WCES, he said the forum was not only important for Malaysians but the Asian Strategy Leadership Institute has explored various avenues to forge networking opportunities among the Chinese diaspora, nationwide, he added. — Bernama