Open borders quickly to get a head start, says business group

The head of a business chamber says there are those “who absolutely have to travel, whether due to work, businesses, and family matters”.

PETALING JAYA: A business group has urged the government to reopen borders quickly to get a head start on other countries.

Shaun Edward Cheah, executive director of the Malaysia International Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “It’s important that we restart sooner than other countries and the excellent way we have contained Covid-19 allows us to do so.

“This is the time to take an advantage while ensuring safety measures are in place.”

He said the government could begin by allowing expatriates and their families to return first, and later set up “green corridors” with other countries with few or no active Covid-19 cases.

Another business leader, Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce president Tan Yew Sing, said international travel on a limited and controlled basis should be considered.

“Generally, people won’t want to travel for leisure at this period but there are those who absolutely have to whether due to work, businesses, and family,” he said.

Cheah said business relationships in Asia was guided by the Chinese-concept of “Quanxi”, based on strong personal relationships and trust.

“Potential foreign investors or buyers would want to do due diligence and meet their potential partners in person or view their facilities themselves. This cannot be done virtually.”

Tan said during the period of the recovery movement control order, the government should review border controls from time to time, depending on the Covid-19 situation at home and abroad.
An economist, Carmelo Ferlito, who is employed at a company which has its regional headquarters here, said Putrajaya should set a clear timeline on the reopening of borders.

He said for companies with regional headquarters, mobility of its workforce was important. Members of his team cannot provide support to customers in China or train customers from other countries because of current restrictions.

He said companies who wish to set up operations in Malaysia would need to visit and assess facilities. “The issue is not simply to open borders but, if you decide not to do so, to have a clear timeline in place so that businesses can make their plans accordingly. Uncertainty is never good for business,” he said.

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