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Malaysia’s New Economic Model:
Risks and Rewards
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AseanAffairs Magazine May - June 2010
CONTENT • BEYOND ASEAN 
 • ASEAN BAZAAR • FEATURED COMPANIES
 ASEAN MANAGEMENT  • INSIDE OUT
  • ASEAN MONEY • OPINION
• ASEAN TRAVELLER  • MALAYSIA IN FOCUS

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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ASEAN AND THE EMERGENCE
OF A NEW TRADE LANDSCAPE

US President Barack Obama addressing the US-Asean summit with Thai Prime Minister and Chairman of ASEAN, Abhisit Vejjajiva, Nov 2009, Singapore .
China’s Influence in Regional Trade

Nicholas S. Zefferys

This presents opportunities for growth in two way trade and two-way investment as the economies of each country seek out complementary economic trade-offs. The con’s, if any, are over cheaper imports affecting local industries. But that is what free markets are all about – survival of the fittest companies who use R&D and the latest productivity leveraging equipment and processes to remain competitive.

....

Mirzan Mahathir

China’s growing influence in the region should not be viewed negatively. It should be welcomed as a counterweight to existing influence from the traditional big powers. China’s recent history has shown that its policies and actions are driven by their domestic agenda. They need to create 20 million jobs a year just to continue their current growth rate. Their success in doing this will give opportunity to Asean businesses to sell their goods and services into a vibrant industrial and consumer sector. The China – AFTA implementation should be seen as a huge opportunity for businesses in Asean countries to tap the Chinese market in a more competitive manner. China is also seeing that economic dominance in any sector is more likely to create a backlash which has the potential to damage the mutually beneficial relationship between the region and herself.

....

Asean’s FTAs with EU and US

Nicholas S. Zefferys

It’s just a matter of time (before Asean signs FTAs with the EU and US). Some of the criteria for such deals require stepping up to global goals of free and fair competition on a level economic playing field, the rule of law, and open economies.

....

Mirzan Mahathir

In my mind, both these trading partners must realise that the unequal economic standing of Asean and that means that opening each others’ markets will give unequal benefit to their respective business communities. As such, the US and Europe have to be sensitive to the aspirations of Asean and her member countries in order to forge a close and enlightened alliance between the negotiating parties.

....

Bane or Boon Proliferation of FTAs in Asean

Nicholas S. Zefferys

Rather than endangering such a community it will enhance its prospects. The whole is always stronger than its piece parts. Individual bi-laterals have sprung up to fill the gap left by a dearth of regional multilaterals, which have lagged. WTO and APEC have for years promoted the multi-lateral approach, but the slowness of this happening has given rise to bi-laterals.

....

Mirzan Mahathir

So long as the FTAs are consistent with existing rules, there is no problem. The idea is to have mechanisms that promote free and fair trade between regions and countries. The Asean Economic Community does not restrict businesses from tapping markets outside the region.

....

Nicholas S. Zefferys (left) speaking in the panel discussion “PARTNERING ASEAN FOR MUTUAL GROWTH AND PROSPERITY”. Vijay K. Gokhale High Commissioner, High Commission of India (centre) and Swarup Roy, Founder & CEO of Asean Affairs (right) at the 7th Asean Leadership Forum, 5th April, Kuala Lumpur , Malaysia .

Shift of Global Trade Focus to Asia-
Pacific: What it Means to SMEs

Nicholas S. Zefferys

Opportunities galore! New markets, new partnerships and alliances, new avenues for achieving scale, infusion of new ideas, higher standards, and cross-fertilisation.

....

Mirzan Mahathir

The potential for benefit for the SMEs are enormous with the Asia-Pacific being more and more the driver of global growth. SMEs in Asean, especially those who have served western companies over the past three decades can expand into new markets either individually or in collaboration with host country partners. There is significant opportunity for revenue growth and graduating from an SME to a regional multinational. The challenge is bringing together a management team with the breadth and depth to compete in foreign markets and win.

....

Mirzan Mahathir addressing the luncheon session at the 7th Asean Leadership Forum, 5th April, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Government Support for Asean SMEs

Nicholas S. Zefferys

More open economies, better production of quality talent, easier to do business, equitable labor laws, IPP, proper infrastructure, universal High Speed Broadband Access, access to multiple funding sources, a level playing field with less government intervention in private sector ownership – both direct and indirect.

Mirzan Mahathir

Asean SMEs will benefit greatly from policies that seek to reduce business costs and spread consistent governmental practices across the region. They also require enlightened banking institutions who can properly assess the risks associated with growth stage companies who are expanding across borders. It is therefore imperative for governments to ensure that their SMEs are supported by the finance community. SMEs are generally the sector that employs the largest portion of the workforce and its vitality will affect job creation.

....

Asean’s Single Market & SMEs

Nicholas S. Zefferys

The bubbling up of SME’s, clusters, and networks is absolutely essential to support economic growth. Can’t happen without it.

....

Mirzan Mahathir

The vitality and resilience of Asean SMEs is crucial to the success of the AEC considering that the numbers of Asean SMEs are large. With the opening up of markets, there will be a flood of foreign companies especially from the developed world finding ways to sell their goods and services all over Asean. Their SMEs are large corporations when compared to Asean’s.

....

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