KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia� Malaysia is expected to reap immense benefits from ASEAN’s infrastructure -backed growth, says HSBC Bank Malaysia Bhd.

In a statement today, Chief Executive Officer Mukhtar Hussain said Malaysia’s big transport opportunity is to boost regional and local connectivity, while improving efficiency in the economy, creating an integrated transport system, as well as, upgrading logistics capacity to enhance the country’s status as a regional hub for international trade.

This is a key focus area for the country under the government’s 11th Malaysia Plan, he added.

Mukhtar said planned infrastructure spending in the 2016-2020 period is US$85 billion, up from the US$50 billion spent from 2011-2015.

Railway financing is a key anchor of planned transport spending as demonstrated through the significant investments that have been made in rail projects that are at the forefront of the country’s list of mega projects. This will include upgrading existing mass transit capacity, he added.

He said Malaysia also stands to benefit from China’s Belt and Road initiative (BRI) infrastructure investment drive.

This is evidenced by China’s involvement in major Malaysian rail projects such as the East Coast Rail Link and the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project.

Meanwhile, a strategic partnership between Melaka and the Chinese province of Guangdong, aims to promote the development of various projects to help establish the state as a strategic port and hub along the Belt and Road route, said Mukhtar.

Regionally, infrastructure investments for Indonesia stood at six per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), 13 per cent for Philippines, 19 per cent each in Thailand and Malaysia and 31 per cent in Singapore.

Transport initiatives are a key focus for budgeted spending in the 10-member economies of ASEAN out to 2020.

Mukhtar said such investments are vital, given infrastructure’s crucial role in creating long-term economic strength, according to the annual World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report.

The emphasis on building better connections to facilitate trade and investment and the flow of goods and people in and around ASEAN cannot be under-estimated.

It will help domestic and international companies maximise opportunities inside one of the world’s most populous, fastest-growing and vibrant regions. With a combined GDP of about US$2.8 trillion, ASEAN already ranks as the world’s seventh largest and is on track to be in the top three by 2030, he added.

HSBC Bank Malaysia is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Ltd (a company under the HSBC Group).