Malaysia’s high-income status target still within reach

LABUAN: The government’s target to achieve high-income nation status by 2020 is still within reach based on the World Bank’s per capita Gross National Income (GNI) threshold of USD12,476 for 2015, said Permodalan Nasional Bhd Group Chairman Abdul Wahid Omar.

He said last year, Malaysia’s GNI per capita had risen to RM36,078 (USD8,409) and this year, the government had estimated it at RM37,812 (USD9,222). It was expected to rise further to RM39,699 (USD9,474) in 2017.

“I believe it (the target) is still within reach despite the big gap.

“Hopefully also, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), once ratified, will provide greater benefits to Malaysia compared with its challenges, to help leapfrog the country towards a high-income nation,” he said at the Labuan International Financial Lecture Series 2016 on Economic Partnerships here today.

The former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department also said the National Interest Analysis prepared by the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) had concluded that Malaysia’s participation in the TPPA was in the national interest.

“There are doubts whether the TPPA will truly materialise, given the position taken by the two American presidential candidates. Well, I am not in a position to speculate what will happen after Nov 8, 2016. We shall let the American people decide,” he added.

In his address, Abdul Wahid said Malaysia had benefitted immensely from its participation in various economic partnerships, either through bilateral, regional or multilateral trade agreements.

“Equally important, the free trade agreements (FTAs) currently being pursued by Malaysia and Asean with selected countries are not confined to liberalisation and market opening measures alone.

“In fact, they are comprehensive and include investment, trade facilitation, intellectual property rights, as well as, economic cooperation in areas such as competition policy, standards and conformance, information and communications technology, science and technology, education and training, research and development, financial cooperation, and small and medium enterprises development,” he pointed out.

Abdul Wahid said to-date, Malaysia had established FTAs with Japan, Pakistan, New Zealand, India, Chile and Australia.

At the regional level, Malaysia and its Asean partners had established the Asean FTA in 1991 and Asean had, so far, concluded FTAs with Australia/New Zealand, China, India, Japan and South Korea, he added.