26 April 2016
Sridharan Nair, Managing Partner, PwC Malaysia
Datuk J. Jayasiri, Deputy Secretary General (Strategy & Monitoring) / Chief Information Officer, MITI
Panel discussion: Opportunities for Malaysia
Moderator: Tan Siow Ming, Deals Leader, PwC Malaysia
Dialogue with Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister of International Trade and Industry
Moderator: Sridharan Nair
Lunch talk by H.E. Joseph Yun, Ambassador of the United States to Malaysia
Panel discussion: Moving up the value chain and entry into new markets – human capital and other challenges
Moderator: Patrick Tay, Executive Director, PwC Malaysia
Tengku Muhammad Taufik, Executive Director, PwC Malaysia
More than 200 participants from the public and private sector attended the recent Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) forum organised by PwC Malaysia at MITI Tower.
The forum titled Big opportunities. Great challenges. What’s your move? shared constructive dialogues between the public and private sector on the opportunities and challenges arising from the TPP, and what Malaysian businesses can do to ensure that they are prepared for this new environment.
PwC Malaysia’s Managing Partner Sridharan Nair kicked off the forum with his welcoming remarks touching briefly on the pros and cons of the TPP. “The need to adjust to the post TPP environment is extremely pronounced within the SME space. Based on the 645,000 we reviewed, less than 20% appear to be export oriented,” he said.
Adding, Sri said that Malaysia however should not face Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the TPP with trepidation. “As with all opportunities, one should expect challenges,” he explained.
The themes stated by Sri were echoed strongly by Datuk J. Jayasiri, Deputy Secretary General, Strategy and Monitoring/Chief Information Officer, MITI of Malaysia in his keynote address. “The TPP offers many opportunities, but it is a high standard FTA and does not come without challenges,” he said.
Datuk Jayasiri went on to say that although what Malaysia secured is not perfect, it is important to note that “we got what we needed, not necessarily everything we wanted.” He concluded by stressing that getting the private sector ready should now be the priority given the short run-up to 2018 when the TPP came into force.
Following Datuk Jayasiri’s address, PwC Malaysia’s Deals Leader Tan Siow Ming moderated the morning panel session titled Opportunities for Malaysia. Panelists included Datuk J. Jayasiri, PETRONAS Corporate Strategy Senior Vice President Adif Zulkifli, Intel Technology Asia Associate General Counsel John Matheson, and GE ASEAN Finance Director Aaron Wong.
The discussion was insightful. While acknowledging that the TPP will call for immediate adjustments, all MNCs involved were very positive with what this would bring.
The morning panel was followed by a lively dialogue session with the Minister of International Trade and Industry Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, moderated by Sri.
Taking questions from both Sri and the audience, Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa said that the government had taken steps to address recurring misconceptions and has put in its most earnest efforts to preserve safeguards.
“There are a lot of misconceptions about Malaysia in relation to the TPP. People think we are still a closed economy and that TPP will change it. That’s not the case,” he said adding that the TPP would require Malaysia to increase the level of cooperation and capacity-building among member states.
Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa also said that the Government appreciated the enormous task of adjustments that lie before the country and had set up both a National Coordination Committee and Consultative Committee to help identify, develop and implement necessary reforms and adjustments. “Engagements with the private sector would be most welcome and forums such as PwC’s should be emulated,” he pointed out.
H.E. Joseph Y. Yun, Ambassador of the United States to Malaysia also made a brief appearance during lunch to share his views on the opportunities and challenges that the TPP offered Malaysian businesses.
Lunch was followed with a second panel discussion titled Moving up the value chain and entry into new markets – human capital and other challenges. The panel was moderated by PwC Malaysia’s executive director Patrick Tay and panelists included MITI Deputy Secretary General (Trade) Isham Ishak, Sedania Corporation Group CEO Dato’ Azrin Mohd Noor, Recron Malaysia CEO Vinay Kulkarni, and PwC Malaysia’s senior executive director Scott Constance.
A strong theme which emerged from the afternoon session was that any reforms and adjustments could not be looked at only with a “short term” lens - but should also account for further long term changes.
Finally, to wrap up the forum, PwC Malaysia’s Executive Director Tengku Muhammad Taufik, summed up the discussions highlighting three key takeaways from the forum.
The need for cross-sector solutions - SMEs appear to face the bigger challenge as there is a very short time to ensure more than the 20% seen today are ready to export their products and services.