Monday 22 Jul 2024
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KUALA LUMPUR (May 15): Malaysia and Singapore’s strength in sustainability should be utilised to pioneer regional benchmarks to drive essential changes across Southeast Asia.

Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (ASLI) analyst Anas Hayyan believes that Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the incoming Singapore Prime Minister Lawrence Wong can kick start the sustainability agenda by establishing and championing environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards within Asean, riding on great initiatives being considered by both countries.

“Together, Singapore and Malaysia are well-positioned to advance their sustainability agendas and set a precedent for collaborative green initiatives.

”This partnership could underscore the potential of joint-ventures to not only enhance bilateral relations but also contribute significantly to global environmental goals,” he told Bernama.

Anas said the green economy presents numerous collaborative opportunities for both countries to explore further.

He highlighted the recent Memoranda of Understanding sealed between Malaysia and Singapore have set the stage for joint-ventures in developing electric vehicle infrastructure and exploring green technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture.

“These initiatives are pivotal, leveraging Singapore’s technological and financial capabilities alongside Malaysia's rich natural resources and larger geographic area.

“This synergy not only facilitates the deployment of sustainable technologies but also supports their integration into the broader regional economy,” he added.

Anas said Wong has held the position of Finance Minister since 2021 and Deputy Prime Minister since 2022, and it is anticipated that his approach as the Prime Minister will be characterised by continuity rather than making drastic changes to ensure a stable basis for ongoing economic cooperation.

“He will continue the economic policies set by the former Prime Minister, wherein he was involved in the discussions as well, which have historically been favourable to maintaining robust trade relations between Singapore and Malaysia,” he added.

The think tank said Malaysia and Singapore share a critically strategic economic relationship, consistently ranking as each other's second-largest trading partners for the past decade.

The economic interdependencies are reflected by the substantial trade volumes which totalled US$79.6 billion in 2023 and US$83.53 billion in 2022.

“This partnership plays a significant role in the broader economic strategy of each nation, which also translates as being each other’s largest trading partner in the Asean region, facilitating robust cross-border trade that is vital for regional stability and growth,” Anas said.

He added that as Malaysia prepares to chair Asean in 2025, the strategic relationship with Singapore could be instrumental in attracting more investment to the region, leveraging their established economic ties and status as major trading hubs.

“Both countries can enhance their appeal to investors looking for stability and growth opportunities in Southeast Asia. This collaboration could potentially increase their influence and ‘economic clout’ within Asean, in driving more integrated and sustainable regional development,” he said.

Among the crucial element of the strategic collaborations between Malaysia and Singapore is the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (SEZ), engineered to enhance economic activities by offering attractive business incentives, such as reduced tax rates and simplified entry processes for skilled workers.

“Key to its success is the infrastructure development aimed at ensuring seamless movement between the two countries, which not only facilitates easier access for businesses and investors but also significantly boosts the economic integration and attractiveness of both nations.

“This strategic initiative underscores the shared commitment to fostering economic growth and enhancing their collective influence within Asean,” he concluded.

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