MILAN, Oct 3 — Foreign investors stand to reap tremendous benefits from investing in Malaysia by using the country as a strategic gateway to tap the huge potential arising from the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The Prime Minister said foreign investors need “to think of Malaysia not just as a destination on its own, but also as a gateway to ASEAN — the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.”
Speaking at the Malaysia Day celebration held at the Expo Centre at Expo Milano 2015 here today, he said as a single market, ASEAN is the seventh largest economy in the world and home to a consumer market of 625 million people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of over US$2 trillion (RM8.82 trillion).
The function organised by Expo Milano was also attended by Italian Minister of Environment, Land and Sea Gian Luca Galletti.
Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz also attended the function.
The Prime Minister’s wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, was also present at the function.
Malaysia is one of the 147 countries participating in the six-month world’s largest exposition which is being held once in five years.
The expo which started on May 1 will end on Oct 30.
Meanwhile Najib, who is also Chairman of ASEAN said: “ASEAN economies are posting average annual growth of more than 5 per cent, and per capita income averaging at US$3,800, leading to a growing middle class with rising disposable income.
He said ASEAN was already a magnet for foreign direct investment and an emerging driver of today’s global economy.
“But it has been estimated that if intra-ASEAN trade was boosted from 24 per cent to 40 per cent, the incremental impact on the ASEAN economy could be US$2.5 trillion annually — a truly remarkable expansion,” said Najib who is here on a three-day working visit starting yesterday.
Najib said the grouping was due to establish the ASEAN Community, a key aspect of which is the AEC this year.
“And this has been designed to create a single market and production base in ASEAN, with a larger vision of a deeply integrated economic region whose population size, combined GDP and shared aspiration will create an entity capable of competing with the world’s largest economies,” he said.
He said the AEC, taken together with the network of ASEAN Free Trade Agreements with dialogue partners such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand, served as an added incentive for businesses to invest in Malaysia.
“The prospect for growth is even more exciting as momentum builds toward the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, and possibly, the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement.
“Both of these will establish Malaysia as a gateway to even more huge and vibrant markets,” said Najib who has a packed programme today including attending a roundtable talk with Italian captains of industries.
The Prime Minister said Malaysia stands ready to welcome closer relations with Italy and the European Union — be it in people-to-people connectivity or in trade and investment.
Earlier, Najib visited the United Arab Emirates, Kazakhstan and Italian pavilions at the expo and later at night will be launching the Malaysia Food Festival at the Malaysia Pavilion. — Bernama