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NEWS UPDATES 30 September 2010

Malaysia to open services sector

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Malaysia will progressively relax ownership rules of more areas under services in a move to raise the sector's share of foreign direct investment from the current 20 per-cent.

"(The Ministry of International Trade and Industry) has been asked to come up with a road map, akin to the one we have for the Asean market, to open up our services sector to the global market. We are working on it," minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said after a dialogue with the Australia Malaysia Business Council in Sydney.

That will outline the second round of liberalisation of more subsectors under services. Last year, Malaysia allowed full foreign ownership in 27 services sub-sectors, including health and social, tourism and transport.

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiated between both countries will also pave the way for Australian companies to expand in Malaysia's services sector.

"Many of the foreign investors are not aware that we have opened up areas in the financial sector, like insurance with the equity cap increased from 49 per cent previously, while more foreign banks are being awarded licences (to operate in Malaysia)."

Meanwhile, at the Forbes conference which ended yesterday, Mustapa told participants that they would be in for a pleasant surprise when they attend the event scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpur next September.

"We'd already be in the process of implementation of our transformation programme and reforms by that time," he said.

Asked by Steve Forbes, chief executive officer of Forbes Inc, how Malaysia had coped with global investors fixated on China and India, Mustapa said that both Asian giants were important trading partners to Malaysia.

"It will be a challenging and competitive environment, which is why we have the transformation programme in place, with the private sector playing a key role and the government becoming more transparent, reducing red tape."

On October 26, the government will outline details of the Economic Transformation Programme involving oil and gas, education and palm oil, among other areas, aimed at bolstering Malaysia's move up the value chain and joining the ranks of developed nations.

Earlier in the day, Mustapa witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between A Cut Above Academy of Malaysia and Clip Joint Education of Australia to set up an internationally renowned centre of excellence for hairdressing training and education in Malaysia.


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