US investment in Malaysia up sharply as trade row with China drags on

US electronics companies such as Intel Corp and Dell Technologies Inc are among the major investors in Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia approved US investment worth US$5.62 billion (RM23.6 billion) in the first half of the year compared with US$113 million the previous year, the government said today, a possible sign of a diversion of US business as a trade row with China drags on.

US and Chinese companies alike are looking at moving some of their manufacturing out of China to escape tit-for-tat tariffs imposed on each other’s products.

Economists say Vietnam and Malaysia are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries, though countries such as India are also trying to attract companies such as Apple, Foxconn and Wistron Corp.

The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida), which shared the data on foreign private investments with Reuters, declined to name any company but said global firms were increasingly attracted to Malaysia for its stable business and political climate.

In the first six months of the year, Malaysia approved US investment proposals worth RM1.69 billion in the manufacturing sector, compared with RM307 million a year earlier, replacing China at the top of the investment list.

Malaysia already hosts manufacturing plants of US companies such as Intel Corp, Dell Technologies Inc and On Semiconductor Corp.

Proposed US investment in the service sector soared to RM11.52 billion from just RM42.3 million in the year-ago period, the data showed.

Total approved proposals from Chinese companies dipped to RM5.1 billion this year from RM5.69 billion a year earlier.