Photo Credit: The Malaysian Reserve
Economy, Investment and Trade
Malaysia-China trade hits US$100 billion
(9 July 2019) China retained its position as Malaysia’s top trade partner for the tenth consecutive year, with trade between the countries reaching US$100 billion last year, said Chinese ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian. He added that Chinese firms have also invested in 422 projects in Malaysia’s manufacturing sector as of the end of 2018, subsequently creating around 73,000 local jobs. The ambassador’s remarks were made during his keynote address at the Malaysia-China Outlook Forum 2019, during which he also highlighted the progress of current bilateral partnerships such as the Kuantan and Qinzhou twin industrial parks, Gemas-Johor Bahru Railway project, and the Proton-Geely partnership. Separately, Securities Commission Malaysia chair Syed Zaid Albar said on July 8 that the commission is exploring possible collaboration between the Malaysian and Chinese capital markets, with negotiations having taken place between the Bursa Malaysia, the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC), and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange (SZSE).
Indonesia asks China for special fund under BRI
(3 July 2019) Indonesian President Joko Widodo requested for the creation of a special fund under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) for projects in Indonesia during his recent meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit, said Indonesian finance minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati. To this end, the finance minister has been tasked with drawing up a proposal outlining the fund’s structure and mechanism that will be submitted to China. Joko’s request follows his statement during the Belt and Road Forum in April, during which he offered China an investment menu of around 30 projects worth US$91 billion. Indonesia’s participation in the BRI has not been the most extensive because the government has insisted that loans are acquired on a business-to-business basis to avoid exposing the government in case of default.
Masterplan for Myanmar’s Chinese-backed Kachin economic zone ready
(8 July 2019) The masterplan for Kachin state’s China-backed Myitkyina Economic Development Zone (MEDZ) is ready and a feasibility study is in the works, the state’s finance, revenue, planning and economic development minister U Wai Lin said on July 5. According to the minister, once both sides have completed their detailed discussions, the Kachin state government will then submit the proposal to the national government and the Myanmar Investment Commission. The development of the Chinese-backed MEDZ — also known as the Namjim Industrial Zone — will cost over US$400 million and include around 500 factories and 5,000 buildings. The project is a partnership between the Kachin state government and China’s Yunnan Tengchong Heng Kong Investment Company (YTHIC), and is one of many being planned under the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor.
Cambodia’s rice exports to China go up as exports to EU fall
(8 July 2019) The sharp decline in Cambodian rice exports to the European Union (EU) in the first six months of the year was offset by increased exports to China, based on industry data published on July 8. According to the data, Cambodia’s rice exports to the EU saw a 32% year-on-year decline during the period, reaching only 93,503 tonnes. On the other hand, its exports to China saw a 66% year-on-year increase during the period, reaching 118,401 tonnes. The country’s overall rice exports also rose 3.7% reaching 281,538 tonnes during the first half of 2019 as it benefited from new export markets such as Australia. According to Cambodian rice company Amru Rice, the EU’s safeguard measures on Cambodian rice have indeed impacted its market, but the company has managed to find new partners in markets such as Australia, to which it now expects to export around 20,000 tonnes of rice annually.
China breaks ground on new Brunei embassy
(4 July 2019) Chinese foreign affairs vice minister Luo Zhaohui and Chinese ambassador to Brunei Yu Hong broke ground on the new 20,000 square metre site of the Chinese embassy in Brunei as the countries look to boost bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade, investment and tourism. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony, ambassador Yu Hong said that the new diplomatic enclave signifies a “new stage” in the countries’ bilateral relationship following Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Brunei last November. Bilateral trade between the two countries totalled US$1.8 billion in 2018 — an 80% rise from 2017. China is expected to have a significant impact on Brunei’s GDP in the coming years, through projects such as the Brunei-Guangxi Economic Corridor and the US$15 billion Hengyi Industries’ oil and gas facility on Pulau Muara Besar.