US firms growing in Malaysia despite looming global economic slowdown, ambassador says

US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir speaks to Malay Mail during an interview October 3, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir speaks to Malay Mail during an interview October 3, 2019. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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GEORGE TOWN, Oct 6 — American companies in Malaysia are still expanding despite growing concerns over a possible global economic slowdown, United States Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir said.

Lakhdhir said generally there are concerns about the global economy slowdown but depending on the industry and sector, some companies are continuing to grow.

“Micron invested more last year, they are putting huge amounts into Penang with new production capacity which will have a huge impact on employment in Penang,” she said during an interview with Malay Mail recently.

Micron Technology Inc is an American producer of computer memory and data storage.

Lakhdhir said she has spoken to American companies based in Penang, and found that the businesses here are driven by new technologies.

“Part of what’s driving the business and made it very successful last year has been the Internet of Things, cloud computing and also new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, driverless cars and robotics,” she said.

She said there are other American companies planning to expand in Malaysia or establishing themselves here.

“An example is the medical devices sector, which is part of the electronics industry,” she said.

Lakhdhir has spoken to many medical devices companies in Malaysia and Penang and found that these companies continue to project positive growth in the long term.

She attributed it to the demographics in Asia which as an ageing population.

“If people are getting artificial hip replacement, artificial knee replacement, or need an aorta heart valve or a pacemaker...that is part of an ageing population,” she said.

She said parts of Asia such as Japan and China, have an ageing population so this translates to growth for the medical devices sector and thefore medical devices companies are expanding here.

“They are looking at 10, 20, 30 years down the road, we are not talking about short term, they are growing overall in the long term, they are not slowing down,” she said.

Medical devices is the third largest investments by American companies in Malaysia after the electronics and electrical, and oil and gas sectors.

When asked about the US-China trade tensions, Lakhdhir said it is a positive sign that the talks between both countries are resuming next week.

She said the fact that China’s top trade negotiators will be leading the 13th round of talks to resolve the trade tension between both countries is a good sign.

“It is positive that they are back to talking, there was a period that they were not in negotiations, there are very challenging issues within these negotiations,” she said.

She said it is not something that can be worked out quickly as the issues including long-standing systemic issues.

It was recently reported that China is sending its top trade negotiator to Washington to calm tensions between the US and China sometime next week.

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