January 16, 2021

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Malaysia propels hi-tech manufacturing investments

Malaysia recently approved a total of RM109.8 billion of investments in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors for the first nine months of 2020. This involved 2,935 projects and would create 64,701 jobs opportunities, said Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida).

Of the total investments approved, domestic direct investments (DDI) accounted for 61.2 per cent or RM67.2 billion, while foreign direct investments (FDI) made up the rest of RM42.6 billion.

China (RM17.0 billion), Singapore (RM8.0 billion), the United States (RM2.8 billion), Switzerland (RM2.8 billion), and the Netherlands (RM2.4 billion) were the top five sources of approved FDI during the period.

For approved projects by state, the five major states namely Selangor, Sarawak, Sabah, Kuala Lumpur and Penang contributed RM76.8 billion (69.9 per cent) to the total approved investments.

Mida said the manufacturing sector had attracted the largest portion of approved investments for the period, contributing more than half (59.5 per cent) or RM65.3 billion. This was followed by the services sector with investments of 39.0 per cent or RM42.8 billion, and the primary sector with approved investments of 1.5 per cent or RM1.7 billion.

The total investments approved in the manufacturing sector were mainly in petroleum products. They included petrochemicals (RM15.0 billion), basic metal products (RM14.5 billion), electrical and electronics (RM7.7 billion), machinery and equipment (RM5.8 billion), chemicals and chemical products (RM4.5 billion), food manufacturing (RM3.0 billion), transport equipment (RM3.0 billion) and scientific and measuring equipment (RM2.1 billion).

These industries make up 85 per cent of total approved investments for the sector.

Compared to the corresponding period last year, DDI in the manufacturing sector saw a leap of 45.5 per cent to RM25.9 billion while the value of approved FDI increased 3.2 per cent to RM39.4 billion. The states with the highest total approved investments were Sarawak, Sabah, Penang, Selangor and Johor. They collectively contributed RM51.3 billion (78.6 per cent).

The leading sources of FDI for the period were China, Singapore, Switzerland, the US, the Netherlands, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. The eight countries jointly accounted for 91.4 per cent or RM36.0 billion of the total FDI approved in the manufacturing sector.

The Senior Minister and International Trade and Industry Minister noted, in a statement, that while the Covid-19 pandemic is still a battle the nation is fighting to overcome with the rest of the world, the government has never wavered in prioritising the needs of its people.

The government strives to ensure the livelihood of Malaysia’s citizens and the sustainability of businesses, not only through this pandemic but for years ahead. Thus, the Budget 2021 cements the groundwork to accelerate investments in Malaysia to spur further economic recovery and create a multiplier effect on the economy.

The Minster is confident that investors would derive value by taping on Malaysia’s well-established local supporting industry network and talented workforce to undertake high-tech products manufacturing and high value-added services.

Malaysian tech sector expected to ride upcycle

OpenGov Asia recently reported that a finance service company upgraded Malaysia’s technology hardware sector to positive from neutral as they expect the sector will ride an imminent upcycle that appears to be heralded by positive growth of the global semiconductor industry.

In a note, the research house’s analysts stated that they adopt a positive growth outlook for the tech sector due to rollout of 5G networks, the ramp-up of semiconductor components and equipment, development of sub-sectors such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI) and electric vehicles (EVs), and Industry 4.0.

While the Malaysian technology realm is trading at an average forward price-to-earnings ratio (PER) of 35 times, it is believed that the rich valuations are justified by the potential earnings growth catalysts and upsides, in tandem with the sector’s upcycle, as well as strong domestic equity fund flows.