M'sia's investment draw on par with other countries
Published on: Sunday, June 11, 2017
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PRESIDENT of the Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Taiwan (or Maycham as it is known), Datuk James Lau, believes that Malaysia's investment incentives are in principle on par with those of other countries that are on offer to Taiwanese investors.He said the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) has a number of tailored incentives for investments in their "promoted sectors". These are medical devices, aerospace and a few technology-driven sectors.

Mida is a government agency dedicated to promoting the development of trade between Malaysia and Taiwan, and investments into Malaysia.

According to Lau, Maycham also facilitates any Taiwanese investors who are keen to explore their intended expansion into Malaysia, and connects them to the relevant authorities in Malaysia.

"Malaysia's investment incentives are on par with our Asean neighbours' offerings to attract Taiwanese investors.

However, I feel that a favourable business and investment environment would be helpful to attract more Taiwanese investors.

"In that context, a conducive environment would be one where the shortage of quality labour, complicated work permit application procedure and risks are minimised," he told Daily Express.

Replying to another question on additional incentives offered by the Malaysian Government, the President of Maycham said:

"Apart from Mida's tax incentives in many of their promoted sectors that are applicable to foreign investments, there are many more sectors that have been completely liberalised by the Malaysian Government.

"For example, these are Telecommunications sector, Healthcare sector, Professional services sector and others that allow 100pc foreign ownership.

"On top of this, there are also many grants that would help companies grow under the purview of Mida."

Against this promising scenario, Lau is certain that Malaysian businessmen are keen to do business in Taiwan, especially with the Taiwan Government offering various investment incentives.

"As an example, domestic and foreign investors can receive taxation incentives for investing in free trade zones, public construction and in biotechnology/pharmaceuticals. Investment support from the central authorities may be available for priority projects," he said, adding that industrial zones, export processing zones, science parks and local governments offer various types of subsidies, financing and tax deductions.

Asked on the sort of industries set up by Malaysians in Taiwan, Lau shared that over the years, many of the Malaysian large conglomerates have their representative offices in Taiwan, especially in view of the fact that the island nation has supplied much of the machinery required by Malaysia's manufacturing sector.

"In fact, Malaysian companies involved in the technology sector have always favoured Taiwan as a stepping-stone into the global market. And in recent years, the Food & Beverage businesses have also bloomed; players such as Oldtown White Coffee and Paparich have reached the shores of Taiwan," he said.

Likewise, Taiwanese businessmen and businesswomen are keen to do business in Malaysia, according to Lau.

Looking at the trade partnership chart, one can see that Taiwan is Malaysia's 6th largest trade partner with more than RM1.6 billion invested in Malaysia in 2016 alone.

Vouching for this desirable development, he said on the investment front, since 1980, there is no doubt that Taiwanese investment in Malaysia has reached at least US$12 billion. "So I am pretty sure Taiwanese businessmen are keen to do business in Malaysia."

On strategies put in place to promote or boost trade between Taiwan and Sabah, Lau said as far as the Malaysian side is concerned, transparencies and effectiveness with government authorities are key attractions for foreign investments, particularly when combined with various investment incentives such as tax breaks and grants.

"And on the Taiwan side, by taking advantage of Taiwan's 'New Southbound Policy', I am confident that through the exchange of commercial information, networking of human capital, trade and investment collaboration as well as community consensus, we can expect a positive outcome of trade promotion efforts between Taiwan and Sabah," he enthused.

In this regard, Maycham has been organising the annual Malaysian Enterprises Recruitment Fair to promote exchange of human capital between the two countries. "Each year, thousands of people would turn up and it has become an effective avenue for Taiwanese investors and graduates to understand more about Malaysia and vice-versa."

Apart from this annual initiative, Lau said, MayCham is also well-positioned to make arrangements for the leading Malaysian enterprises and commercial groups to meet up with the relevant government offices to conduct in-depth meetings and site visits.

On the nature of industries set up by Taiwanese businessmen in Malaysia, Lau said many Taiwanese investments are in electrical and electronics engineering, machinery, precision moulding and engineering.

"But of late, Taiwanese investors have diversified into aquaculture, furniture and food processing, including halal food."

Interestingly, he said, there is one company named Kinabalu Polybag producing polybag (plastic bags) at the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park (KKIP) in Sabah. "The company was established in 2003 and I believe it is still doing very well."

On whether the current global economic slowdown has affected trade between Taiwan and Sabah, his view is that it hasn't as clearly reflected in a sizeable increase of exports to Taiwan in the past few years.

While Sabah's imports from Taiwan showed a downturn from 2012 to 2016, from about RM500 million in 2012 to about RM260 million in 2016, Lau noted that exports to Taiwan showed an upward trend from 2012 to 2016, from about RM600 million in 2012 to RM810 million in 2016.

"I believe the weakening of the Ringgit has a lot to do with this," he said.

Based on data from Sabah's Department of Statistics, the major imports from Taiwan would be manufactured goods and processed food / fruits. Sabah's major exports to Taiwan would be palm oil and rubber commodities as well as timber.

Malaysian Chamber of Commerce in Taipei was established on Sept 9, 2011.

As President of Maycham, Lau's Steering Committee aims to achieve at least three major objectives.

These are to facilitate a platform for regular and constructive exchanges among the Malaysian business sector (Maycham), students (Malaysian Students' Association in Taiwan or MSAIT) and officers from the Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre (MFTC) in Taiwan; to contribute towards the bilateral economic (trade & investment), cultural and educational collaboration between Malaysia and Taiwan; and to organise more business and creative events to unearth Malaysian talents.

Under the leadership of Lau, Maycham has been very active, having hosted or co-organised numerous highly-recognised annual events and activities in Taiwan.

Among the major and significant annual events are:

l Malaysian Enterprises Recruitment Fair – The latest one was held in Taipei on April 15, 2017 and a previous one in Taichung on March 15, 2017, both offering more than 1,500 job vacancies against a turnout of 10,000 participants. According to Lau, about 700 positions were offered by Malaysian enterprises and Taiwanese investors in Malaysia, of which roughly 96pc were taken up by Malaysian and the remaining 4pc by Taiwanese students.

All applicants are degree holders from various Taiwanese universities.

l Suara Malaysia – The 3rd Suara Malaysia in Taiwan was held in early April this year, and produced a male champion was produced for the first time as the last two yearly champions are both girls.

l Malaysian Art Festival – the 2017 edition launched a series of art events and exhibitions from April 22 to 29.

l Sukma Malaysia – Maycham co-organised this event with the Malaysian Students' Association in Taiwan (MSAIT.

By far the largest annual event for Malaysian students in Taiwan, it was held on May 6 and 7 this year at the National Taiwan University of Sports in Taichung.

l Malaysian Night – This annual function provides a platform to connect the government officers from Malaysia, Malaysian representative officers, Malaysian entrepreneurs and the Malaysian students in Taiwan.

l Expanding Network – Maycham connects so many Malaysian enterprises to a community of professionals and corporations in Taiwan, and vice versa. - Mary Chin


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