Strategic competition between the United States and China has intensified in recent years, with Europe joining the US particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic and Russian invasion of Ukraine. The trend towards economic decoupling, with the US and its allies seeking to secure and diversify their supply chains away from China, has opened new opportunities for countries in Southeast Asia. Malaysia has several advantages, in terms of its longstanding relations with these countries and their Multinational Corporations (MNCs), relatively developed and efficient infrastructure, and an educated workforce. However, political instability and an uncertain policy environment in the country give MNCs some cause for concern, particularly given the significant competition from Malaysia’s regional peers, namely Vietnam and Indonesia.
This seminar seeks to answer the following questions and more:
- What are the key trends in FDI inflows to Malaysia since 2018? How has Malaysia adjusted its trade and investment promotion strategies in response to global and regional competition?
- How will Malaysia benefit from the various economic initiatives and agreements signed or underway, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the US’ Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), the US-Malaysia Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) on Semiconductor Supply Chain Resilience, and the EU Global Gateway initiative?
- What are the potential stumbling blocks for Malaysia, such as political and policy uncertainty, lobbying by interest groups, and developments that could further reduce Malaysia’s fiscal space and raise inflation?
- How has geopolitical competition complicated Malaysian economic policymaking on critical issues, such as its 5G network?
About the Speaker
Ong Kian Ming is the Member of Parliament for Bangi and was formerly the Member of Parliament for Serdang (2013 – 2018). He is the former Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) of Malaysia (July 2018 – February 2020). He was a Fulbright Scholar, and holds a PhD in Political Science from Duke University, an MPhil in Economics from the University of Cambridge, and a BSc in Economics from the London School of Economics. Previously, he was a lecturer at UCSI University, a policy researcher, and a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in Kuala Lumpur.
Tham Siew Yean is Professor Emeritus at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Visiting Senior Fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. She was formerly Director and Professor at IKMAS, UKM. She has served as a consultant to national and international agencies, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Asian Development Bank Institute. Her research publications are focused on foreign direct investment, international trade, trade policies, and industrial development in Malaysia and ASEAN. She has a PhD in Economics from the University of Rochester, USA.