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Malaysia’s New Economic Model:
Risks and Rewards
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AseanAffairs Magazine May - June 2010

Prime Minister Najib Razak vows to take Malaysia forward and transform it into a high income nation through economic and social reforms. Initial responses to this ambitious drive are mixed, details are scarce and investors play wait-and-see.Yet, Najib insists he’s got support to push ahead.

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Common Risks

Rajiv Biswas

A key risk facing many of the Asean economies is that they still have export-driven growth models, with exports still accounting for a high share of GDP. Consequently, they are still vulnerable to the US and EU markets.


Ramon Navaratnam

These risks include lack of confidence in handling economic realities post-crisis.

The Role of Private Sector

Rajiv Biswas

Asean governments have already made substantial efforts to create the correct environment for rapid growth in intra-regional trade. The next step is to remove domestic barriers to intra-Asean investment, not just on paper, but in terms of implementable delivery for foreign direct investment projects by Asean partners on the ground.


Ramon Navaratnam

Opening up of the markets alone may encourage more intra- Asean competition and trade. Policy makers should nevertheless alert regional businessmen, publicising the dawn of the new era, and show political will to make it work.

Post-AFTA: Intra-Asean Trade

Rajiv Biswas

Trade liberalisation within Asean will be an important contributor over the medium to longer-term to more rapid growth in regional trade and investment flows. Therefore it will play a positive role in supporting economic development in Asean. As FTAs are gradually built with other rapidly growing countries in the Asia-Pacific, this will also further contribute to a better longterm environment for growth in regional trade and investment flows. While such trade liberalisation measures clearly do have adjustment costs in some industry sectors in the short-term, it is important to focus on the long-term strategic perspective.


Ramon Navaratnam

Expectations are high that AFTA can make a difference. It will change our mindset as we can’t continue to be too protective. Tariffs will decline and goods and services can become cheaper.

Asean Company, Asean Brand

Jamaludin Ibrahim

An Asean company should be defined based on values, of what Asean means and has to offer. Just as Germany and Japan have managed to create a value to their national companies, Asean needs to do the same.


Mohamed Iqbal Rawther

The idea of a common economic zone, where there will be a free flow of trade and investments, is now considered a necessity in the wake of globalisation, and global crisis. But the drive towards achieving a common market or a union poses a challenge. Probably it will take sometime before it will become a reality.


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