Penang, which recorded RM13.3bil in approved manufacturing investment up to September last year, is expecting a much more challenging year for 2020.
Datuk Seri Lee Kah Choon, who is the special investment adviser to the Chief Minister, said investments could dip this year due to fierce competition from ASEAN countries which had introduced various incentives in 2019.
He said 2019’s approved manufacturing investment was extraordinarily high, adding that it could be more than RM14bil as the October-December 2019 figures have yet to be disclosed by the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida).
Lee said companies that had invested in 2019 would be consolidating their operations and building infrastructure facilities while others would be planning to start production.
“Other than the fierce competition, talent shortage and the US-China trade war could dampen growth, ” he said when presenting investment updates on ‘2019 Performance and 2020 Outlook’ at the investPenang office in Bayan Lepas last Thursday.
Lee said although domestic political uncertainties linger, it was not a factor for investors as good infrastructure, sound economic policies and good talent pool would bring in foreign direct investment.
“Although our number of workers is limited, we have ‘incubated’ talent from years of experience in the electrical and electronics manufacturing sector.”
The country said Lee, also has a limited pool of technologically
skilled workers with only 50,000 engineering graduates and a very small number of those who have masters or PhD qualifications.
“Vietnam is sought after because of its cheap labour and it has three times our population but lacks an adequate talent pool in the manufacturing sector, ” he said.
In terms of Penang’s 2020 strategies to attract investments, Lee stressed that the state government would continue focusing on capital-
intensive, high-quality and knowledge-based investments and deepening the value chain.
“Priority will be the building of key promoted sectors such as medical technology, equipment manufacturing including automation and machining, semiconductors and high-value EMS (electronics manufacturing services).
“Apart from that, the state government will be having constant engagement with existing companies having operations in Penang and will equally focus on both reinvestments and new investments.
“We are also encouraging small to mid-sized foreign companies to outsource jobs to local vendors or form joint-venture partnerships with local companies in order to expedite their time to market.
“The state is also working on plans to collaborate with other northern states to develop the region as an ecosystem hub for promoted industries, ” he said.