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IN 2021, Malaysia registered a foreign direct investment (FDI) inflow of RM48.1bil. The biggest beneficiary was the manufacturing sector with an inflow of RM29.5bil, followed by the services sector at RM12bil and the mining and quarrying at RM5.8bil.
This was the highest inflow relative to the pre-pandemic trend. Between 2010 and 2019, the average flow was only around RM35.9bil.
The momentum in the investment trend continued into 2022.
In terms of approved investments, Malaysia attracted a total of RM42.8bil in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors, involving 910 projects based on the Malaysia Investment and Development Authority’s (Mida) latest numbers as of the first quarter this year.
As of June 7, 2022, there were 268 projects with proposed investments of RM14.4bil in the manufacturing and services sectors.
The manufacturing and services sectors are the clear winners when it comes to FDI. These sectors are important to economic growth since they contribute to around 80% of the economy.
Within the manufacturing sector, the largest beneficiary was the electrical, transport equipment and other manufacturing with an inflow of RM18.4bil.
Within the services sector, the biggest chunk went to the finance and insurance sectors with RM5.8bil.
Foreign investors’ appetite for the region significantly increased after the pandemic, where all of the South-East Asian economies experienced a total inflow of US$175.3bil (RM781bil), led by Indonesia, Vietnam and Malaysia.,
There are several reasons why Malaysia continues to be the top destination for investment.
The first is the strong regulatory framework that provides stability and security for long-term investors who want their investments, research and products to be protected.
In this region, not all economies can offer that.
Funding is also crucial for investments in workers, capital and products.
Another reason is Malaysia’s deep financial access that allows businesses to easily obtain funds and loans or list themselves in the equity market.
New fundraising avenues such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer lending platforms that grew substantially during the pandemic were also an attractive reason for foreign investors to access the market in Malaysia.
Apart from that, the government also provides incentives.
Under Budget 2022, the government allocated a RM2bil special fund to attract foreign companies to invest in Malaysia, and zero income tax up to 15 years for manufacturing and services companies that relocate their operations to Malaysia.
Mida is also doing its part to attract investors to come to Malaysia.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, the authority established a Project Acceleration and Coordination Unit or Pacu to provide faster and more efficient implementation of approved projects.