Bilateral trade group: US ambassador’s remarks about Malaysian investments his own

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The American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) has distanced itself from investment remarks made earlier today by the United States Ambassador Brian McFeeters.

The bilateral trade group clarified that McFeeters’ remarks as reported by Malay Mail do not reflect their views.

“Amcham has established and continues to enjoy a productive working relationship with the Malaysian government.

“Covid-19 has obviously disrupted the rhythm and cadence of our interactions but in other ways it has also strengthened the relationship,” it said in a statement last night.

It said it has engaged many times with the Economic Action Council, the Malaysia International Trade and Industry Ministry, and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority over the past 18 months, especially in the last eight weeks.

“The regulatory environment in Malaysia has been and continues to be challenging but by working on key issues, Amcham has committed to our members and government stakeholders, to find opportunities for dialogue and to exchange viewpoints so that regulations can stay abreast with rapidly evolving business models,” it said.

It said active cooperation provides clarity and consistency.

“We may have points of disagreement but by communicating actively we all help to ensure that Malaysia can remain competitive and in a future-looking position for decades to come. US investors look to continue their long-standing partnership with Malaysia and more importantly, the strong relationships it has built with the community and citizens of this great nation,” it ended.

Yesterday, The Malaysian Insight reported Amchan’s chief executive officer Siobhan Das saying that Malaysia cannot afford to keep lurching in and out of the movement-control order (MCO) while uncertainty over economic recovery is taking a toll on the global value chains.

Das said 30% of Malaysia’s manufacturing projects are in Selangor, with an investment value of around RM100 billion.

“The lockdowns are devastating. It has seriously damaged the country’s reputation as a reliable business partner. We have to find a new approach. We cannot keep lurching in and out of MCOs, because the uncertainty of recovery is crippling the country’s position in global value chains,” she told the business station BFM yesterday.

Das said Malaysia is a critical node for the global supply chain and the pandemic has exposed that level of integration.

“It supplies 7% of the world’s semiconductor trade alone, so anyone having anything to do with the industry somehow goes through Malaysia at some point,”

“The world cannot afford for Malaysia to go offline,” she said.

However, Das said the semiconductor industry is just one of the many value chains and there are others such as medical devices and automotive supply chains.

Therefore, she said it is absolutely vital for Malaysia to understand its position in the global value chain.

Malaysia is a key electrical and electronic exporter to global markets, including the US.

Earlier, McFeeters told reporters in an online news conference that Malaysia is seen as a good investment destination due to its highly educated workforce and generally English-speaking population, but the unpredictability of its regulations were turning off some companies.

He added that this predated the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The problem they (existing investors) have is the predictability and the implementation of regulations. They were not given a chance to be consulted over these new regulations. The implementation can be confusing.

“There is a bit of anxiety about the regulatory climate and the stability and certainty in Malaysia,” he said in a Zoom meeting after a virtual tour of Penang.

McFeeters also said there were consultation sessions with Amcham but it was not as productive, systematic and accountable as the trade group wishes it to be.