Tough times ahead but we can take it, says Kian Ming

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming.

PETALING JAYA: Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming today said the economy is resilient enough to weather the coming economic storms, days after a prominent economist warned of “tough times” ahead.

He agreed with KS Jomo, who warned of problems beyond the government’s control and an intractable external situation which the economist said is deteriorating on an almost daily basis.

However, he said there are also signs that Malaysia’s economy which he called well-diversified can withstand some of the global challenges to come.

He referred to the growth in exports for April, which increased by 1.1% to RM85.2 billion after two months of negative year-on-year growth.

From January to April, he added, exports decreased marginally by 0.2% to RM321.26 billion.

“Despite the US-China trade war, our exports to China from January to April still grew by 2.8% to RM42.7 billion.

“I am cautiously optimistic that the overall export figures for the first half of 2019 will show a positive growth,” he said in a statement.

In terms of investment approvals, Ong added, these increased by 3.1% for the first three months of the year from RM52.3 billion to RM53.9 billion.

Foreign investments, which comprise 54.4% of total approved investments, increased by 73.4% from RM16.9 billion to RM29.3 billion, driven largely by increased approved investments in the manufacturing sector.

“At the same time, realised investments, according to the Q1 2019 Balance of Payment Figures for FDI, increased to RM21.7 billion as compared to RM12.9 billion in Q4 2018. These FDI were largely channelled to the services, manufacturing, mining and quarrying sectors,” he said.

“Thankfully, all is not doom and gloom for the Malaysian economy.”

He hit out at critics including former prime minister Najib Razak whom he said had taken Jomo’s comments out of context to attack the government instead of recognising the serious external challenges which the country faces.

However, he said his ministry would continue its efforts to attract FDIs to Malaysia while also encouraging domestic direct investments.

“With our well-diversified economy and continued foreign interest in investments, we are hopeful that Malaysia is also in a better position to weather the coming economic storms,” he said.