Trade war spurs 1,360% investment jump in Malaysian state of Penang


The Malaysian state of Penang is winning from global investors’ search for safe havens, amid the U.S.-China trade tensions.

Foreign direct investments into its manufacturing sector surged 1,360% to 8.47 billion ringgit (US$2 billion) in the first quarter from a year ago, more than for the entire 2018. The state stands to gain from changes in the global supply chain as it’s well-connected with a strong talent pool and supportive public policies, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said in a Wednesday statement.

The state, already home to companies from Intel Corp. to Dell Technologies Inc., makes up 42% of Malaysia’s manufacturing FDI. Recent investments in Penang include U.S. semiconductor company Micron Technology Inc’s new solid-state drive assembly and testing centre, and Florida-based Jabil Circuit Inc’s purchase of 20 acres of land to expand its facility.

“Malaysia is reaping benefits from business relocation, as well as trade and investment diversions caused by the trade war,” Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a Thursday statement, adding that the rise in investments as well as industrial production signal “healthy” economic growth in the second quarter.

Chow is wary of the near-term outlook and cautions that the investment surge may not be repeated in the second or third quarters. While some companies benefit from the trade war, others are negatively affected as their customers take a wait-and-see approach, he said. Penang’s investment outlook remains “on the right track” over the medium to long term, Chow said.

The state had moved quickly to court investors amid the trade war, signing a cooperation deal with China Chamber of International Commerce, giving subsidized rental rates for small businesses and setting up a seed fund for technology start ups.- Bloomberg

Penang bags big jump in investments 

More than RM8bil recorded in the first quarter of the year

Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and State Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin speaking during a press conference at KOMTAR. - LIM BENG TATT/The Star
Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and State Tourism Development, Arts, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin speaking during a press conference at KOMTAR. – LIM BENG
TATT/The Star

THE state recorded RM8.85bil in total approved manufacturing investments in the first quarter of 2019, exceeding the RM5.78bil it received for the whole of last year.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the investments in the first quarter were 768% higher than the investments in the same period in 2018.

“Penang garnered 41 projects at the start of this year,” he said at a press conference held at his office in Komtar.

“They amount to RM8.85bil and will bring in more than 10,000 jobs.

“The state is a key contributor to the country’s foreign direct manufacturing investment (FDI), representing 42% of the country’s total FDI.”

Chow highlighted the many attractions of Penang for investors.

“We boast a robust supply chain, strong talent pool, well-established infrastructure and support services to investors.

‘The combination of all these advantages makes Penang a preferred destination for investments.”

He was quoting the latest data from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida).

However, Chow was more cautious about the business climate later this year.

He said that while Penang could remain a preferred investment destination in the mid to long run, the US-China trade war would have a huge impact in the coming two quarters of the year.

“We believe the meeting between Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping later this month will be crucial.

“We feel our stellar performance in the first quarter might not be repeated in the second and third quarters of this year.

“Nevertheless, Penang’s investment outlook is on the right track over the medium to long term.

“The state government will continue to focus on bringing in high quality investments that can create high-value jobs and suit the state’s industry profile,” he said.

Penang’s approved manufacturing investments rise more than seven-fold in 1Q19

Penang attracted approved investments worth RM8.8 billion in the manufacturing sector in the first quarter (1Q) of 2019, up 763% from RM1.02 billion in the same period last year.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said despite the intensifying trade and technology disputes between the United States and China that created uncertainties in the global trade and economic outlook, Penang remained a favoured investment destination.

“According to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), from January to March this year, Penang successfully garnered 41 projects amounting to RM8.85 billion, which represented 35% of Malaysia’s total approved investments in manufacturing,” he told a press conference here today.

The approved manufacturing investments in 1Q19 had already surpassed the full-year approved investment figure of RM5.8 billion in 2018, he said, adding that they were expected to create 10,073 job opportunities in Penang.

Of the total investments approved in the quarter under review, foreign direct investment accounted for RM8.47 billion while the rest was domestic investment, Chow said.

“The optimal combination of robust supply chain, strong talent pool, well-established infrastructure and the state’s support services to investors makes Penang a preferred destination for investments,” he said.

However, Chow, who is also the chairman of the Penang Strategic Investment Advisory Council, said while Penang could be a preferred investment destination in the middle to long run, he was cautiously optimistic on the near-term outlook due to the latest trade war development.

He said there was a truce in the trade war in 1Q but the situation had worsened since.

“US President Donald Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on another US$300 billion of Chinese exports to the US, and the meeting between Trump and China’s leader Xi Jinping later this month is crucial,” he said.

He also cautioned that the superb investment performance in the manufacturing sector in 1Q might not be repeated in the second and third quarters; however, Penang’s investment outlook would be on the right track over the medium to longer term.

“Through InvestPenang, the Penang government will continue to focus on bringing in high quality investments that would create high value jobs and suit the state’s industry profile,” he said.- The Edge Market.
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