We have internal resilience to face future economy challenges, says Ong

20 Jun 2019 / 11:40 H.

PETALING JAYA: Our diversified economy can withstand some of the global challenges ahead, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Dr Ong Kian Ming said today.

He said his ministry, together with investment promotion agencies, MIDA and InvestKL, would continue their efforts in attracting good quality FDI (foreign direct investment) to come to Malaysia.

Ong was commenting on Dr KS Jomo’s remarks that the country is in for a very tough time because the external situation is very bad and is deteriorating almost on a daily basis. Jomo had said “many of these problems are beyond the control of the Malaysian government”.

The deputy minister agreed with Jomo’s view that the external economic circumstances continue to be very challenging, especially in the light of recent developments in the US-China economic relationship.

“I also agree that many of these challenges are caused by factors beyond the control of the Malaysian government,” Ong said in a statement.

“When the US-China trade war was restricted to the area of tariffs on goods and services, Malaysia could at least benefit from some short-run trade and investment diversions. This can mitigate some of the longer-term negative consequences of the trade war.

“For example, (Japan’s biggest brokerage) NOMURA has estimated that Malaysia will be the fourth largest beneficiary of the US-China trade war as a result of trade diversion.”

Ong said it is It is unfortunate that some quarters, including former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, have chosen to take Jomo’s comments out of context to attack the government instead of recognizing the serious external challenges which the country is facing.

“After two months of negative year-on-year growth, exports for the month of April 2019 increased by 1.1% to RM85.2 billion,” Ong said. “For the months from January to April 2019, exports decreased marginally by 0.2% to RM321.26 billion.

“Despite the US-China trade war, our exports to China from January to April 2019 still grew by 2.8% to RM42.7 billion. I am cautiously optimistic that the overall export figures for the first half of 2019 will show a positive growth.

“In terms of investment approvals, we can also be encouraged by the figures announced for the 1st quarter of 2019. Overall, investment approvals increased by 3.1% for the first 3 months of 2019 from RM52.3 billion to RM53.9 billion. Foreign investments, which comprise 54.4% of total approved investments, increased by 73.4% from RM16.9 billion to RM29.3 billion, driven largely by increased approved investments in the manufacturing sector.”

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