This article first appeared in The Edge Malaysia Weekly on April 27, 2020 - May 3, 2020
Last week, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Philippines said Japanese companies moving out of China as a result of the coronavirus are considering shifting to Vietnam, Indonesia and Thailand as a first choice in order to safeguard supply chains, resources and raw material production.
While this statement was aimed at a Philippine audience, does it come as a surprise that Malaysia was not among the top three choices, despite our perceived close diplomatic relations with Japan?
A casual chat with local businessmen will explain why we are not on that short list.
Here is one of the examples offered.
Earlier this year, Malaysia launched the National Automotive Policy (NAP) 2020, which had been delayed since mid-2018.
If the wait was worth it, there would not be any complaints, but after such a long delay, industry players said the policy lacks details, with some commenting that it did not have “any real substance”.
Investments in the automotive sector easily amount to hundreds of millions of ringgit, and when details are lacking, it would be difficult to attract the investors.
To be fair, the NAP was launched by the Pakatan Harapan government. Maybe it is not yet the time to ask the Perikatan Nasional government if it plans to follow through with a better plan.
But the relevant ministries have to start thinking about the post-MCO world and how they should make Malaysia attractive to companies that want to move out of their traditional manufacturing bases to diversify their concentration risks.
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