Penang records RM8.8 billion of total approved manufacturing investment in the first quarter of this year, up 768 per cent year-on-year and surpassed 2018's amount of RM5.6 billion. NSTP picture by MIKAIL ONG.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang recorded RM8.8 billion of total approved manufacturing investment in the first quarter of this year, up 768 per cent year-on-year and surpassed 2018's amount of RM5.6 billion.

Of the total, RM8.47 billion were manufacturing foreign direct investments (FDIs), up 1,360 per cent year-on-year, representing 42 per cent of Malaysia's total FDI.

Major manufacturing investments in Penang included projects from Micron Technology and Jabil Circuit.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said between January and March, Penang had garnered 41 projects amounting to RM8.85 billion, representing 35 per cent of Malaysia's total approved manufacturing investment.

Chow said the first quarter's total approved investments were expected to create 10,073 new job opportunities.

"Penang remained a favourable manufacturing investment destination, amid the intensified trade and technology disputes between the United States (US) and China that created uncertainties on the global trade and economic outlook.

"The optimal combinations of robust supply chain, strong talent pool, well-established infrastructure, and the state's support services to investors makes Penang a preferred destination for investments," he said when making the announcement at his office in Komtar today.

Chow said while the current trade tension created macro uncertainties, there were also opportunities in the challenging environment.

He added that regardless of whether the US and China could strike a deal on the trade agreements, corporates would have to strategise to diversify their manufacturing geographical footprint to avoid being a victim of the two super powers' trade and technology fight, which could last for years.

"The global supply chain is set to be reshuffled. Penang has to position itself to ride on the opportunities arising from this structural change," he noted.

Meanwhile, Chow pointed out that while Penang could be a preferred investment destination in the mid to long run, the state was cautiously optimistic in the near-term outlook due to the latest trade war development.

He said there was a truce on the trade war in the first quarter of this year but the situation has worsened since then.

"US President Donald Trump has threatened to slap tariffs on another USD$300 billion of Chinese exports to the US, and the meeting between Trump and China's leader Xi Jinping later this month is crucial.

"The superb first quarter investment figure may not repeat itself in the second or third quarter but Penang's investment outlook is on the right track over the medium to longer term.

"Through investPenang, the Penang government will continue to focus on bringing in high quality investment that can create high value jobs and suit the state's industry profile," he added, noting that while some companies were benefitting from the US-China trade war, there were also companies' that are being impacted as their clients have taken a wait-and-see stand on the latest development.

Chow stressed that the state had been monitoring the situation and working closely with both the multinational corporations (MNCs) and local companies to face the challenges ahead.