KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia– Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows into the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have been steadily increasing this year and are expected to reach over US$100 billion (US$1 = RM4.29) from the current US$96.7 billion, said International Trade and Industry Minister, Mustapa Mohamed.

He said this would continue to benefit Malaysian companies in terms of trade and investments, sharing of technology and job creation.

“It’s been a great and successful journey for ASEAN and everyone is proud to be citizens of ASEAN, including Malaysia,” he told reporters at the Intra-ASEAN Investment Forum here today.

Mustapa said there has been a modest recovery in the global FDI flows and as a community consisting of more than 630 million people, ASEAN has the opportunity to gain from that.

The FDI inflows into ASEAN member states for the last five years (2012-2016) amounted US$565.5 billion with major investors coming from ASEAN, the European Union, Japan and the US, he said.

On intra-ASEAN trade, he said, there was an upward trend due to lower cost of doing business in the region.

Last year, ASEAN companies invested US$23.9 billion in the region, up 12.2 per cent from 2015, he said.

Inflows from ASEAN member states into Malaysia have been growing steadily, from RM1.8 billion in 2010 to RM11.6 billion in 2015, Mustapa said, adding that among the prominent ASEAN companies that had invested in Malaysia were Charoen Pokphand, Wilmar, Musim Mas, Tipco Asphalt and TCC Group.

On the development of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), Mustapa said, the 10 participating countries were pushing hard to get things done.

“We might have some challenges as there are 22 chapters listed and so far we have only completed two chapters which are on SMEs and economic and technical cooperation.

“We have more things to do and only four to five months to go we got to be realistic. If we can’t finish it this year, then perhaps, in the first half of 2018,” he said.

RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between ASEAN member states comprising Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the six countries that have free trade agreements with ASEAN namely Australia, China, India, Japan South Korea and New Zealand.

RCEP members are scheduled to meet again this year in South Korea and Manila.