The Star | Wednesday January 19, 2011
Trade pact with Gulf Cooperation Council on the cards
By TEE LIN SAY
Mustapa: We want to boost ties with Middle Easterners
KUALA LUMPUR: The framework of the cooperation agreement between Malaysia and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries has been completed and the next step is to sign the free trade agreement, according to Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
“We have decided to go ahead. We want to strengthen relationships with the Middle Easterners. We want them to invest here, as well as for our people to invest there. As it is, they already invest in our services sector like banks and property,” Mustapa said at the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) annual conference yesterday.
He declined to give details as these were still early days, but said more studies would be done before the signing.
The Malaysian economy was looking good based on the Government’s Economic Transformation Programme and the entry point projects (EPPs) that had been announced by the Prime Minister, he said. These projects will continue to be announced on a monthly basis.
“Anecdotally, investor confidence and consumption have returned. For 2010, we’ve managed to secure quality projects that are in line with bringing Malaysia to the high-income economy status,” said Mustapa.
He said that once implemented, projects approved in 2010 were expected to create a total of 97,319 employment opportunities of which 74.2% would be in the high-income category. An amount of RM3,000 is considered high income.
“For example, we are seeing an increasing number of Malaysian managers and engineers being engaged in industries such as solar, advance electronics, medical devices, aerospace, oil and gas and research and development activities,” he said.
The manufacturing sector was the fastest growing sector in 2010. It registered a growth rate of 13.5% and contributed 27.9% to gross domestic product (GDP). The services sector grew at 7%, contributing 57% to GDP.
In the manufacturing sector, a total of 910 projects involving investments of RM47.2bil were approved in 2010, compared with RM32.6bil in 766 projects in 2009.
Of the 910 projects, 537 were new involving investments of RM23.9bil. Total approved projects for manufacturing and services amounted to RM74.9bil.
Foreign investments in approved projects increased 31.7% to RM29.1bil, attributed to greater interest by foreign investors to invest in new growth areas and emerging technologies.
A total of RM18.1bil of domestic investments was approved in 2010 compared with RM10.5bil in 2009.
Meanwhile, some of the quality projects approved in 2010 included First Solar, with an investment of RM1.1bil, Twin Creeks (RM1bil), WD Media (RM4.3bil), Jabil Circuit (RM2.3bil), B. Braun (RM1.7bil), Nippon Electric Glass (RM1.4bil) and OM Material (RM1.5bil).
On the oil and gas front, Asia Petroleum Hub will be investing RM2.3bil, Petronas Gas more than RM1bil and ATT Tanjung Bin RM1.1bil.
Altera Worldwide Services and Huawei Technologies will both be making Malaysia their global hubs, and will invest RM102.6mil and RM139.9mil respectively.
“US-based Twin Creeks, which is a solar company, will be investing in Perak,” said Mustapa.
Twin Creeks (M) Sdn Bhd chairman and director Datuk Rais Hussain Mohamed Ariff said it was a choice between Malaysia, Singapore and China.
“The founders of Twin Creeks chose Malaysia because they were very taken in by the state government’s proactive participation and their determination to make the project happen no matter what,” said Rais.