U.S. Businesses Discuss Malaysia’s Economic Response and Recovery from COVID-19

Beginning on October 4, the US-ASEAN Business Council (USABC) engaged a number of top Malaysian officials on Malaysia’s economic recovery from the global COVID-19 pandemic, the nation’s position as a regional and global trading hub, and Malaysia’s continued digital transformation, as a part of USABC’s annual Malaysia Business Mission. This was the first year the annual business mission was conducted virtually. The delegation engaged with key ministers and government officials from the Perikatan Nasional Government that came into office in March this year. This engagement is part of the Council’s continued effort to highlight the commitment of the American business community to Malaysia’s dynamic growth and to support Malaysia’s recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.   

The virtual mission was co-led by Alexander C. Feldman, Chairman, President and CEO of the USABC, Chairman of USABC’s Malaysia Committee, Shaun Levine, Head of Government Relations Southeast Asia for MetLife, and Ambassador Michael Michalak, USABC Senior Vice President and Regional Managing Director.  With 23 companies, multiple sectors were represented during the mission, including consumer products, energy, financial services, healthcare, information technology, manufacturing and logistics.  

“The US-ASEAN Business Council stands ready to support the Malaysian government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Our members have already demonstrated their strong commitment to Malaysia through targeted programs designed to promote the country’s public health and economic recovery in these unprecedented times,” said Alexander C. Feldman. “The government’s focus on policymaking that prioritizes digital transformation, supports continued growth and investment in the healthcare sector, and ensures the continuity of essential services will not only ensure Malaysia’s position in regional and global supply chains, but also bounce its economy forward. We look forward to further discussions and partnerships to support the Malaysian government at this critical time.” 

The virtual business mission was well-timed as it not only allowed the delegation to provide recommendations and offers of support to the government as it works to restore the economy, but also provide input as the government is currently finalizing the 2021 national budget and 12th Malaysian Plan.  USABC urged the government continue to take a transparent, consultative process to policymaking and to establish clear governance and regulatory frameworks for industries in order for business to rebound and recover.   

To date, the delegation has held meetings with Minister of Finance YB Senator Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (Economy) YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamad, Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture YB Dato’ Sri Hajah Nancy Shukri, Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) CEO Surina Shukri, US Ambassador Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir, APEC Secretariat Executive Director Tan Sri Datuk Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, in addition to meetings with Bank Negara and the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia. Due to the current political environment, as well as issues around the resurgence of COVID-19, additional meetings were postponed, but USABC hopes to reschedule when circumstances allow.  

USABC members companies who joined the 2020 Virtual Malaysia Business Mission were Airbnb, Amazon, Amsted Rail, Apple, Chubb, Citi, Coca-Cola, ConocoPhillips, GE, Google, Herbalife Nutrition, Johnson & Johnson, Koch Industries, MSD, Metlife, Oracle, Philip Morris International, Qualcomm, S&P Global, Salesforce, Seagate, UPS and Visa. 

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For over 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.