: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today invited more Indian investors to leverage on Malaysia's strategic location to strengthen their presence in the ASEAN region and beyond.
He said with the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in the near future, Malaysia would be an ideal location for them to either set up regional establishments or use the country as a launch pad to penetrate the ASEAN market, the seventh largest economy in the world.
Speaking at a joint interaction with leading South Indian chambers of industry here, the visiting prime minister said with Malaysia's highly diversified economy, strong manufacturing foundation, developed infrastructure and connectivity that meets international standards, there is enormous potential for further cooperation between both countries.
"Our country can be your gateway for ASEAN and beyond. I urge all of you to take advantage of the wealth of opportunities offered by Malaysia," said Najib who reached the capital of Tamil Nadu state yesterday, for the start of a six-day official visit to India.
The round table discussion today was organised by the Malaysian Associated Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI).
Also present were MAICCI Secretary-General Datuk Dr AT Kumararajah, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam and Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa.
The RCEP, which also includes China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, offers immense potential for trade and investment growth through the reduction of barriers, better market access and deeper economic integration.
The strategic trade agreement will also enhance overall economic competitiveness and business connectivity in the region, said Najib who is also the Finance Minister.
Najib highlighted that Malaysia had introduced the Principle Hub scheme.
This is to make it more attractive for global companies to better allocate their resources, and be well-positioned to leverage on the country's competitive location in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific region.
Najib said Malaysia also continued to exploit the huge potential of e-Commerce to enhance convergence in the global supply chain, pointing out, the newly launched world's first Digital Free Trade Zone.
It was jointly launched by Najib and Jack Ma, the founder and executive chairman of Alibaba Group, last week.
"This initiative is part of our National e-Commerce strategy roadmap, and will offer a condusive environment for digital companies to carry out their businesses.
"There will be enormous opportunities for investors, and we invite you to take advantage of this new growth area in Malaysia," Najib said.
He also said, economic and trade relations between Malaysia and India had grown from strength to strength, and increased more than four-fold from 2003 to 2015, boosted by healthy, close political and business exchanges at the highest level.
India is Malaysia's 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 3.3 per cent or US$11.7 billion of the country's total trade.
The main exports to India included palm oil and palm-based products, electrical and electronic products, crude petroleum, metal and chemical products.
Najib said while, the main imports from India were petroleum, agricultural, metal, chemical products, machinery and equipment, Malaysian companies such as Tune Hotels, IJM Corp and UMW Corporation had also been expanding their operations in the country.
He said the Malaysia-India relationship was further strengthened by bilateral and multilateral agreements such as the Malaysia–India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (MICECA) and the ASEAN–India Free Trade Area (AIFTA).
Najib said as a strong resilient nation, with growth of 4.2 per cent last year, Malaysia remains an attractive destination for foreign direct investments (FDI).
FDI in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors approved by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) in 2016 increased by 63.4 per cent from the year before.
This confidence in Malaysia is also attested to by numerous independent organisations and institutions, with the latest being BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, which in their 2017 report, ranked it as the best country to invest in.
Najib said with seven per cent of Malaysia's population being of Indian origin - the highest percentage of Indian diaspora outside India -and with the vast majority being Tamilians, the market is open for business and ideas from local investors.
"With joint efforts by both our countries, I am certain that Malaysia-India economic trade and cooperation will be taken to new heights," he added. -- Bernama