ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Britain looks at Asean for growth in trade and investment
In terms of exports, he said Asean was becoming an important market for Britain in view of the weak European and US markets, adding that UK was targeting 1 trillion British pounds (US$1.59 trillion) in total exports by 2020 or more than 40 per cent of export to gross domestic product. Plans are also afoot to double trade with each Asean country by 2015.
“Asean is a growing and important market for the UK as it collectively is a huge economy and has a long historical relationship with it. It also has a well-regulated business environment. We are looking at another 100,000 British companies that will be exporting overseas moving forward,'' Baird said this at a recent Southeast Asia media visit to London.
Various initiatives and promotional campaigns had been put in place to bolster British exports overseas, including to Asean. One of it is Launch Pad which provides subsidised office space for new companies exporting to growth markets like Asean. Companies which are exporting to growth markets are also given discount for services incurred at a fraction of its original costs.
Total trade between UK and Malaysia stood at 4.38 billion pounds in 2011, up 8 per cent from 2010. Exports from UK to Malaysia for the period of January-August 2012 totalled 996.5 million pounds, an increase of 6.6 per cent year-on-year. Malaysia is ranked the 33rd export market for Britain, an improvement from the 35th place in 2011.
As for foreign investments into the UK, he noted that Britain was developing a new industrial strategy which focused on various sectors in the manufacturing and services sectors, among others. Some of these are in the automotive, aerospace, railways, life sciences, education, construction, creativity, financial and professional services.
Baird said a wide range of measures would be introduced to attract foreign investments into UK. Corporate tax would be lowered to 22 per cent from 26 per cent by 2014, making it the lowest in the G7 countries, he added.
A huge infrastructure programme would be developed to attract foreign investment, he said, noting that 40 per cent of UK's infrastructure is foreign owned, especially in transportation, energy and communication. Some of the major investing countries in the region into the UK are from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.
Some 50 Malaysian companies have invested in various sectors in the UK and this include from automotive to life sciences and financial services. The most notable investment so far is the Battersea Power Station which would see a redevelopment value of 8 billion pounds and would generate 26,000 jobs.
Education and railway projects are also areas of interest of British investment into Malaysia.
Meanwhile, on the Asean economic outlook, Capital Economics Ltd emerging Asia economist Gareth Leather felt Singapore and Malaysia could be impacted if the eurozone sovereign debt crisis persisted as they had greater exposure to Europe. He said, however, the government's rollout of mega projects in Malaysia was good as it would spur the local economy moving forward.*1 British pound=US$1.59
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