Sat, 12 Mar 2005

From: AFP

Foreign investment in M'sia slows in 2004

KUALA LUMPUR: Foreign investment in Malaysia's manufacturing sector slowed in 2004 but domestic investment took up the slack, hitting its highest level in six years, trade minister Rafidah Aziz said on Thursday.

Rafidah said the government approved a record 1,101 projects last year with investment of 28.7 billion ringgit (US$7.55 billion), compared to 965 projects worth 29.1 billion ringgit approved in 2003.

Approved foreign investment, however, fell 16 percent to 13.1 billion ringgit in 583 projects as domestic investment jumped 16 percent to its highest level since 1997 at 15.6 billion ringgit or 54 percent of the total, she said.

The 2004 figure exceeded the government's target of 25 billion ringgit under its 10-year industrial plan to 2005. Total investment approved during the 1996-2004 period now amounts to 239.10 billion ringgit, officials said.

Despite intense competition from China for foreign investment, Rafidah said Malaysia remained attractive to companies in high value-added production.

"We don't view China as a threat but as a competitor and a partner," she said.

She said the ringgit peg, fixed at 3.80 to the dollar since 1998, was not a deterrence to foreign investment as it provided manufacturers with predicability in costing. -- AFP