Zafrul: Malaysia on strong footing to attract quality investments

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s economy is on a strong footing to attract quality investments, said International Trade and Industry Minister, Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

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In an interview with CNBC this morning, he said that although challenges still remain due to global economic uncertainties, China’s move to reopen its borders next week bodes well for Malaysia, as China is the nation’s largest trading partner.

“The move will help our exports and economy. Domestically, efforts focusing on environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) principles in key sectors, enhancing the ease of doing business, and moving up on the value chain in sectors that we are strong in will also help cushion the impact of global economic headwinds.

“Malaysia is forecasting a four per cent growth in 2023. Our (growth) numbers are looking good, inflation is at four per cent and the unemployment rate is at 3.6 per cent,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul added that Malaysia is expected to register a gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 8.0-9.0 per cent in 2022.

For the first nine months of 2022, the nation’s economy expanded by 9.3 per cent, he said, adding that the country registered a 14.2 per cent GDP growth in the third quarter of 2022 amid robust domestic and external demand as well as an improved labour market.

During the interview, Tengku Zafrul also noted several possible concerns that could affect the global economic growth prospects, namely monetary and fiscal tightening, global tensions such as the Ukraine-Russia war which disrupted supply chains as well as exporters’ capacity in meeting ESG market demands.

CPTPP to continue

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The minister said the Unity Government, led by Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, is very much committed to the nation’s participation in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which came into effect on Nov 29, 2022 in Malaysia.

Replying to a question on whether there would be a new re-evaluation of the 11-member trade deal, Tengku Zafrul said that the Prime Minister himself had signed all the necessary administrative agreements to ensure that exports and imports can continue under the ratified deal.

“There were obviously some issues that were raised by various groups and we have addressed that by taking a number of actions to mitigate some of the concerns, so we are very much committed to participating in it,” he said.

Ringgit to strengthen further

When asked if the worse is over for the ringgit, which depreciated by six per cent in 2022, Tengku Zafrul said he is optimistic that the local currency will continue to strengthen in 2023, given Malaysia’s growth forecast for the year.

“I think the key point here is what is going to happen to the US dollar. From my point of view, I think the (US) dollar has reached a comfortable level,” he added. -BERNAMA


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