KOBE (Nov 29): International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking is calling for Japanese investors to leverage on Malaysia’s push for digital transformation.

He said Malaysia is committed to undertaking digital transformation efforts, among others, through the National eCommerce Strategic Roadmap, as well as the country’s engagements at international level.

“These efforts signify the determination of the Government of Malaysia to propel our country to become a digital nation and hence create a conducive environment for investors to do business in Malaysia,” he said at the Seminar on Business Opportunities in Malaysia here, today.

Darell was one of the panellists at the seminar which also featured Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) chief executive officer Datuk Azman Mahmud.

The others were Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) chief executive officer Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal.

According to Darell, there were several options for the Japanese investors to leverage on Malaysia’s initiatives on Digital Transformation including setting up operations in the country and obtaining the MSC Malaysia status.

“On the digital front, Japanese investors can apply for the MSC Malaysia status which provides eligible ICT (information and communications technology)-related businesses, both local and foreign, with a wide range of incentives, rights, and privileges to promote continued growth,” he explained.

The tax exemption would also be granted for income derived from either services activities or intellectual property.

Darell pointed out that the Japanese investors can partner with local companies that have access to the RM1 billion Domestic Investment Strategic Fund.

The fund was set up to accelerate the shift of Malaysian-owned companies in targeted industries to high value-added, high technology, knowledge-intensive and innovation-based industries.

“The fund is to harness and leverage on outsourcing opportunities created by multinational companies (MNCs) operating in Malaysia, intensify technology acquisition by Malaysian-owned companies and enable Malaysian-owned companies to obtain international standards or certifications in strategic industries,” he said.

By partnering with local companies, Darell said the Japanese investors can enjoy initiatives available for local companies such as Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation’s (MDEC) Digital Transformation Acceleration Programme (DTAP).

“Established for large corporations and mid-tier companies, DTAP is an outcome-driven programme which aims to help businesses achieve an increase in productivity, reduce foreign labour dependency, as well as create new sources of growth or business models,” he said.

DTAP, a partnership between MDEC and MIDA, is accompanied by an outcome-based matching grant.

“The grant is created with the objective of assisting companies to leverage on digital transformation lab’s expertise and assistance in addressing pain points or exploit opportunities in the digital space, while adopting emerging digital technologies,” he said.

Apart from that, Darell said the Japanese investors can tap into the robust Malaysian startup ecosystem and utilise the Malaysia Digital Hub initiative.

“The Malaysia Digital Hub is an initiative that supports tech and digital co-working spaces.

“The Digital Hubs are essentially the centre that offers startups with the opportunity to expand globally, have ready access to high-speed broadband connectivity, funding and facilitation opportunities, and a workforce-ready ecosystem, among others,” he added.

The government has also announced new initiatives in the 2020 Budget to further boost the digital transformation such as customised incentive package.

“Am RM1 billion customised package incentive is available to attract investment from Fortune 500 and global unicorn companies in high technologies, manufacturing, creative and new economic sectors, which is allocated annually from 2020 to 2024,” Darell said.

To qualify, the Fortune 500 and global unicorns must invest at least RM5 billion each in Malaysia in selected high technology, knowledge-based and strategic projects.

The projects are advanced electronics and computing, advanced semiconductor, integrated circuit, artificial intelligence, medical devices, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, biodiagnostics, specialised chemicals, aerospace, and green technology, and strengthening Malaysia’s manufacturing and service ecosystems.

Another initiative, Darell said, is the Global TestBed, which provides foreign companies with the platform for testing, developing and co-creating new technology and products in Malaysia to nurture an ecosystem for new technologies with proper governance structure and policies which encourage innovation.

Apart from these initiatives, he said investing in Malaysia would enable the Japanese investors to access the country’s robust tech talent ecosystem produced by the local educational institutes.

Malaysia also offers visas for Foreign Knowledge Workers to ease the process for foreign talent to come to Malaysia.

“Among them are the Malaysia Tech Entrepreneur Programme which is an initiative by the Malaysian government to attract foreign tech entrepreneurs either founders and cofounders from all around the world and help them set up and develop their startups in Malaysia,” he said.

Meanwhile, Darell said investing in Malaysia would also give the Japanese investors access to the ASEAN Data Analytics Exchange (ADAX).

“ADAX is a data technology hub to proliferate data-driven decision making, the catalyst for talent development and access to vibrant data ecosystem for investors to foster collaboration among businesses, start-ups, academia, and professionals so that these focus areas become an integral part of business innovation and decision making,” he said.

He added that by accessing ADAX, Japanese investors can tap into the data technology ecosystem within ASEAN.

The seminar was organised in conjunction with the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s trade and investment mission led by Darell to Japan from today until Dec 5.