Sunday, October 26, 2008

Malaysia safe from global financial turmoil: Kadir

Published Date: October 26, 2008
By Ben Garcia, Staff Writer

KUWAIT: "We are not seriously affected by the global financial turmoil, we are not saying nil, but on a minimal level," disclosed Mohammad Rafik Kadir, Deputy Governor of Central Bank Malaysia, speaking with the local media on the sideline of their seminar conducted at the Sheraton Hotel in Kuwait recently. Kadir's delegation was composed of over 30 Malaysian businessmen who visited the country with the aim of strengthening bilateral economic ties with Kuwait.

Khadir was accompanied by high-level economic delegations comprising of Omar Merican, Chief Operating Officer of Malaysian Stock Exchange, Raja Nazrin Shah, Crown Prince of Perak, Jalila Baba, Director General Malaysia Industrial Authority and Kris Azman Abdullah, Securities Commission Malaysia. Malaysian Ambassador to Kuwait Ashaary Sani hosted the economic delegation.

Just looking at the records, we are not seriously affected. We only have 12 percent of the total export with the US. We have 11 percent trading with the EU and about 15 percent in the Arab world. The majority of our trading was with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which constitutes about 64 percent of our trading overseas," he said.

The Malaysian Stock Exchange however admitted to a downfall of 38 percent on their stock index. But Omar Merican, Chief Operating Officer of Bursa Malaysia Stock Exchange, noted that Malaysia is still very fortunate compared with their ASEAN neighbors.

We are still lucky compared to other ASEAN neighbors, like the Philippines, the stocks are down by 45 percent, Jakarta is 51 percent, Korea is down by 44 percent, Taiwan is 44 percent," he said.

The foreign direct investment according to Jalilah Baba, Director General Malaysia Industrial Authority was thriving. "Despite global financial turmoil, we have a mass of inquiries from abroad and we have some positive and ongoing negotiations. We might experience a slowdown in foreign direct investments in 2009 since many are cautious on spending, but it won't affect us much," she said.

Asked on the status of their meetings with their counterparts, Kadir pointed out that 'everything went well'. "Our meeting with our counterparts in Kuwait was very successful. Our mission here was to create awareness about the Malaysia International Islamic Financial Center (MIFC) initiatives. MIFC was introduced by the Malaysian government in 2006 and was aimed at issuing licenses to Islamic banking in Malaysia. With this regard, we have met with the chairman of the Al-Aquila and Leasing Company and we br
iefed them about business opportunities in Malaysia," he added.

Taking the lead as a center for Islamic Finance, MIFC provides for a coordinated regulatory framework, fiscal incentives and facilitative business environment. It has also actively initiated dialogues, road shows and spoken at seminars throughout the world in showcasing economic and trade opportunities leveraging on Islamic finance.

We are keen to share with our Kuwaiti counterparts and key stakeholders the many opportunities and mutual benefits available under the MIFC initiative, in advancing the trade relationship and investment opportunities between our countries," Razif added.

Kuwait and Malaysia enjoy a growing bilateral trade relationship that has seen Kuwait's trade accounting for 0.2 percent of Malaysia's total trade alone in the first seven months of 2008. Exports to Kuwait consist of fats and oil (dairy products and palm oil), electrical products and furniture, while imports from Kuwait are mainly minerals, plastics and ships.

Kuwaiti investments continue to play a growing role in Malaysia's financial market, insurance, real-estate and business service sub-sector, accounting for some 0.2 percent of total foreign direct investment since 2004. This proportion, however, is expected to rise in the coming years.

Kuwait's largest bank, Kuwait Finance House was granted the first foreign Islamic bank license to set up operations in Malaysia in 2004 and continues to be a key player forging new heights in Malaysia.


Malaysia safe from global financial turmoil: Kadir
Kuwait Times, Kuwait