China consul-general: Malaysia remains important regional trade, economic partner in region

GEORGE TOWN: China continues to see Malaysia as an important partner in regional economic and trade cooperation despite the challenges that the Covid-19 pandemic has caused to both countries.

Penang-based China Consul-General Lu Shiwei (pix) said the virus is just a short-term interference to economic and mutual prosperity ties. The underlying mission to boost growth and mutual benefits between both countries in a globalised economy remains on track, Lu stressed.

“We can find new opportunities in the middle of difficulties. We believe that the impact of the pandemic is temporary and limited. When it ends, the two sides will quickly resume relevant activities, continue to seize opportunities in jointly building the Belt and Road Initiatives and to make full use of respective advantages, as well as to create new highlights of cooperation,” he said in an interview with SunBiz.

At present, there are nearly 70 Chinese enterprises that are based in northern Malaysia.

The areas of cooperation include new energy, pharmaceuticals, electronics, building materials and transport.

“We will continue to encourage more Chinese companies to accelerate their investment in Penang, explore new fields of economic cooperation, especially in key sectors such as electronics. It should be developed. We will also encourage more Chinese enter-prises to participate in the construction of relevant major projects and contribute to local development,” Lu said.

Meanwhile, despite China’s recent economic slowdown, Lu reassured Malaysian investors that the recovery is expected to be “robust”.

He pointed out that some of the main indicators, such as manufacturing, services, investment, retail sales of consumer goods, imports and exports have narrowed their declines.

“Despite the severity of the virus infections, the main industries have not been greatly affected, there are no large-scale layoffs, the employment situation is generally stable, and the industrial upgrading continues, especially the new economic drivers represented by new industries, new products, and new business models have achieved growth against the difficult situation,” he said.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, China’s gross domestic product shrank 6.8% year on year in the first quarter of the year, the first decline seen since 1992.

As for the country’s investment projects, there were 11,477 projects recorded in the first quarter, a jump of 144 projects compared with the same period of the previous year.

“It is expected that China’s economy will continue its upward momentum. The second quarter will be better than the first, the second half year will be better than the first half year, and next year will be better than this year,” said Lu.

He added that confidence is returning to the domestic market and the International Monetary Fund has predicted that China’s economy will grow by 1.2% in 2020 and surge to 9.2% next year.

“Covid-19 is a public health emergency, but its impact on China’s economy is only short term and limited,” Lu reiterated.

Lu says mission to boost growth and mutual benefits between both countries remains on track. – Picture courtesy of Consul-General’s Office.