ROBUST ECONOMY: PM’s US visit shows strong confidence in our growth prospects
NEW YORK: THE presence of Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak here this week might not have been known to many of the more than eight million people living in this financial capital of the world.
Nevertheless, his visit from Wednesday to Friday was eagerly awaited by members of the business community in New York who are looking into investing in Malaysia.
And to meet their needs, a meeting was arranged with the number one leader of Malaysia and business leaders of various Fortune 500 companies.
The venue chosen for the meeting was the prestigious Harvard Club of New York, which was opened in 1865, whose membership is made up of those who had studied at the United States' top university, Harvard University.
Companies that sent representatives to the meeting included giants like ConocoPhilips, Boeing, Citi Group, Darden, AIG-Chartis, Guardian Industries, Eastman Chemical, Symmetry Medical, Ace Group and Crest Group.
In his opening remarks, Najib explained to them that the Malaysian economy had expanded a robust 5.1 per cent last year, exceeding forecasts, and Malaysia's central bank, Bank Negara Malaysia, was projecting a Gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between four and five per cent again this year in spite of the euro zone debt crisis and slower growth among Malaysia's major trading partners.
"In view of our comfortable reserves, low external debt and healthy inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI), I am confident Malaysia's economy will remain resilient."
In a challenging external environment and in the face of intense global competition, Malaysia remains a cost-competitive location for FDI with total investments last year up 36.7 per cent to US$46.9 billion (RM140.7 billion) compared with US$34.3 billion the previous year.
"Our growth formula is premised on a strong and effective partnership between the public and private sectors, with the government facilitating business through a light-touch regulatory environment, and it is the strength of this partnership that continues to make Malaysia so cost-competitive."
He said, internationally, the government's efforts were already gaining recognition with Malaysia making significant strides in several global rankings.
When met by reporters afterwards and asked about the response received, Najib said he could see that they were confident about their prospects in Malaysia.
He said they were also satisfied with the policies implemented besides the approval process and incentives offered by the government.
"Meaning to say Malaysia is still a country that is highly competitive to attract foreign investors. This has been confirmed through our rankings by international rating agencies and in our meeting with the foreign business community."
Nevertheless, according to the prime minister, the government still needed feedback from them on what further improvements could be made.