KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia– Malaysia will continue to support multilateralism despite the prevalent anti-globalisation rhetoric in some parts of the world, said International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed.

He said it was one way for the country, which practices an open economy with a relatively small domestic market, to deal with the current global challenges and ensure long-term growth and stability.

“Malaysia continues to be pragmatic in its engagement with the rest of the world. We will continue to support the multilateral system and open regionalism,” he said at the inaugural Asia Business First Forum here today.

Mustapa added that trade agreements, be it bilateral or multilateral, were important for the nation, which was why Malaysia, together with 10 other remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was still looking at options to bring the agreement into force, minus the United States.

“Malaysia remains open to further discussion and we expect a decision on the future of TPP to be made during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Summit in Danang, Vietnam, later this year,” he said.

Saying that Malaysia’s trade was expected to grow by five per cent this year, the minister added that the key to success was in the country’s strong support for regional economic integration in ASEAN and to the numerous benefits derived from the ASEAN Economic Community.

He said Malaysia had reaped numerous benefits, as evident from the country’s trade last year with ASEAN which accounted for 28 per cent or RM403 billion.

Exports to ASEAN stood at 29 per cent of the country’s overall exports while imports from ASEAN constituted 25 per cent of overall import.

“This regional grouping has brought a lot of benefits to Malaysia and other members, through closer economic, political and socio-cultural integration,” he said.

Mustapa also said ASEAN was also taking the lead to negotiate the world’s largest mega-free trade agreement via the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which would create the largest integrated market of 3.5 billion people.

“With the TPP hanging in the balance, the successful conclusion of the RCEP is of outmost importance for the future trade and growth of the region,” he said.

Mustapa said another factor that contributed to the country’s resilient economy is the nation’s ability to produce many globally competitive companies.

“As it stands, Malaysia is now a net exporter of capital � our direct investment abroad at the end of the second quarter of this year stood at RM574 billion compared with foreign direct investments of RM557 billion.

“This goes to show that Malaysian companies have a strong presence, globally,” he said, adding that were over 1,000 active Malaysian companies with investment abroad.

He said Malaysia’s success in navigating through the current challenging period was also partly due to the diversified economic and export structure.

“This point needs to be constantly highlighted as we have been one of the most successful countries in the world in transforming the socio-economic landscape of Malaysia in the last 60 years,” he added.

Besides, Malaysia’s success was due to its systematic planning process and effective execution machinery, through five-year development plans and the key performance indicator monitoring mechanism which was put in place since the nation embarked on its economic transformation journey about seven years ago.

He said Malaysia’s focus on infrastructure development, especially in the last three decades, had made the country a world-connected country and has facilitated domestic businesses.

“The mass rapid transit system, Pan-Borneo Highway, East- Coast Rail Link and High-Speed Rail will further enhance connectivity and make Malaysia even more attractive for trade and investment,” he said.

Themed, “Malaysia’s Key to Success, the forum garnered more than 150 chief executive officers, senior governments, economists, business leaders and captains of industry from around the region.