Malaysian PM Anwar’s visit to China the start of more Chinese investments, say business groups

Business groups in Malaysia have lauded Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to China, during which 19 agreements were signed to boost investments in green technology, digital economy and modern agriculture.

The Star reported the groups as saying the visit will send a strong and positive signal to international investors, as well as boost investments between the two countries.

SME Association of Malaysia president Ding Hong Sing welcomed the signings, saying it was good news to local industries, especially the small and medium-sized businesses.

“It will create a ripple effect. China is known for its high-technology expertise and Malaysia will be able to learn a lot from their side,” he said.

Datuk Seri Anwar was on a four-day official visit to China, which ended on Saturday.

During his visit, he met Chinese leaders including President Xi Jinping, as well as business leaders.

Mr Anwar on Saturday described his maiden official visit as an achievement that brought great benefits to the country.

“The hospitality received and focus given (by Chinese leaders and business figures) were extraordinary. I consider this a very positive development. This visit is of great benefit to Malaysians,” he told Malaysian media on Saturday night.

The visit saw Malaysia securing RM170 billion (S$51.2 billion) worth of investment commitments from China.

The amount, the biggest so far from China, is from a total of 19 memorandums of understanding (MOUs) signed between businesses in China and Malaysia in various fields, especially in green technology and the digital economy sectors.

Mr Anwar also extended an invitation for Mr Xi to visit Malaysia in 2024 to mark the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.

According to Malaysian national news agency Bernama, Mr Xi last visited Malaysia in 2013 when the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership agreement was signed.

Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia treasurer-general Koong Lin Loong, who was part of Malaysia’s trade delegation to Beijing, said Mr Anwar’s visit would send a positive message to foreign investors, particularly Chinese investors, that Malaysia was a close trading partner.

“The 19 MOUs are a great milestone related to various sectors including electronic vehicles, electronics, big data and digitalisation. They will definitely have a good impact on the country,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Nivas Ragavan said the commitments were seen as a good sign for China and Malaysia to boost trade relations.

“The investments from China will definitely serve as an impetus to science and technological innovation, digital economy, green economy, modern agriculture and bio-medicine,” he added.

“China is already at the forefront globally in those areas, and its partnership with Malaysia would definitely enhance the latter in these fields.”

Mr Nivas said the Chinese investments will open up opportunities for strategic partnerships between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in both countries.

“Our local SMEs need a shot in the arm and these partnerships with China companies will definitely push the SMEs to grow.”

Malay Chamber of Commerce Malaysia acting president Norsyahrin Hamidon said that the chamber remained supportive of the government’s move to bring in investments from China.

“It is high time. We need to be able to tap the large market that China has to offer.”

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009. Total trade between the two countries reached RM487 billion in 2022.

China was also the top investor in Malaysia in 2022, contributing 21 per cent of the RM264.6 billion investments Kuala Lumpur approved that year.