PETALING JAYA: China is open to talks with Malaysia on forming an “Asian Monetary Fund”, said Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, amid the world’s growing impatience with the United States dollar’s dominance.
Anwar said he proposed setting up the fund at the Boao forum in Hainan last week, stressing the need to reduce reliance on the dollar or the International Monetary Fund.
“When I had a meeting with President Xi Jinping, he immediately said, ‘I refer to Anwar’s proposal on the Asian Monetary Fund’, and he welcomed discussions,” Anwar said at Parliament today. Anwar was on a state visit to China last week to steer ties post-Covid-19.
“There is no reason for Malaysia to continue depending on the dollar,” he added.
Malaysia’s central bank is already working on enabling the two nations to negotiate on trade matters using the ringgit and renminbi, said Anwar, who doubles as finance minister.
His comments came just months after former officials in Singapore discussed what economies in the region should be doing to mitigate the risks of a still-strong dollar that’s weakened local currencies and become a tool of economic statecraft.
Anwar said today he had initially mooted forming the Asian Monetary Fund during his first stint as finance minister in the 1990s. His idea at that time didn’t gain traction as the US dollar was still seen as strong, he said.
“But now with the strength of the economies in China, Japan and others, I think we should discuss this — at least consider an Asian Monetary Fund, and, secondly, the use of our respective currencies,” he said.
Anwar also revealed to lawmakers the breakdown of the record RM170 billion ringgit investment China had committed to Malaysia. This includes an initial investment of RM2 billion this year in Zhejiang Geely Holding Group and Proton’s automotive high-tech valley project, which will increase to RM32 billion.
Rongsheng Petrochemical Co. will also increase their activities in Pengerang, Johor with an RM80 billion project, Anwar said. Rongsheng is one of China’s biggest refiners.