Delay In Border Reopening A Main Factor Affecting Malaysia’s Competitiveness Ranking: Zafrul

The delay in reopening international borders was the main factor for the decline in Malaysia’s overall ranking in the 2022 International Institute for Management Development (IMD) World Competitiveness Ranking (WCR), according to Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

The international trade and industry minister said the downward ranking trend was clearly seen among countries that were slow in reopening their international borders due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Compared with the US and European countries, Malaysia took a cautious approach before deciding to reopen its borders fully on April 1, 2022, after considering the balance between saving lives and livelihoods, he explained.

“Due to the delay in comparison to other countries, Malaysia’s ranking dropped in the IMD WCR,” he said during the Dewan Rakyat sitting here on Tuesday (March 28).

The minister was replying to a supplementary question from Datuk Dr Ku Abd Rahman Ku Ismail (Perikatan Nasional-Kubang Pasu), who asked the reasons that Malaysia fell seven rungs from the 25th spot to the 32nd place.

Tengku Zafrul said other factors affecting the ranking included the perception of the local and international business communities that the regulations and laws were restrictive and not business-friendly.

He said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) is fine-tuning a business facilitation proposal to assist local and foreign companies interested in investing in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Tengku Zafrul said that in an effort to create an investment ecosystem that is more sustainable in the country, Miti and its agencies had implemented various strategies to attract more high-quality investments to Malaysia.

Among the main strategies that have been and are being carried out are enacting and enhancing the New Investment Policy to facilitate new investments, according to the minister.

”Based on the National Investment Aspirations, the new policy will accelerate the entry of quality and sustainable investments, especially in new growth fields, as well as focusing on inclusivity and sustainability, in line with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) aspirations and goals,” he said in reply to a supplementary question from William Leong Jee Keen (Pakatan Harapan-Selayang), who wanted to know the government’s plan to increase investor confidence via resetting the economy, especially by developing new growth areas.

Tengku Zafrul said Miti will implement a comprehensive review of the current tax incentive framework, and implement a national approach as per the targets under the 12th Malaysia Plan.

“On this matter, emphasis will be given on investments in new growth areas, including electric vehicles, smart factories using 5G technology, the digital economy, green technology, smart farming and supply chain ecosystem,” he added.

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