China to stimulate regional growth despite global uncertainties: Malaysian PM

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 (Xinhua) -- China, which is accelerating its economy, will be a key driver towards regional growth, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim said on Wednesday.

Anwar pointed out that while global inflation shows signs of peaking, the estimation is that it will only move downward rather slowly. In addition, "the probability of a U.S. recession within the next 12 months occupies strategic debate, and we are certainly exposed to these risks," he said in his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2023.

However, "the good news is that ASEAN is emerging as a defensive harbor -- GDP growth for the ASEAN-5, excluding Singapore, is estimated to remain resilient at 4.7 percent in 2023. China, a key economic engine and for us, a key economic partner, is in the process of its own reopening -- the timing and extent of which we are all watching eagerly," Anwar noted.

He also said Malaysia remains committed to poverty alleviation and sustainable development while seeking to escape the middle-income trap.

The Malaysian prime minister stressed the importance of ensuring that all segments of society are able to benefit from progress, especially marginalized groups living below the poverty line.

"The nation's economic expansion and growth should be achieved in the wider context of human economy that prioritizes the people's needs, especially the poor and marginalized," he said.

"The poorest must be lifted out of this curse and be given access to that all-important first rung of the economic ladder, so that they can then begin climbing," he said, adding that the recently-announced national budget aims to deal with the rising cost of living to ease the people's burden.

Anwar also said Malaysia is deeply committed to the environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals and will work to ensure that these principles filter down to even small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

"We are open to the demands of ESG. Not only are we open, we seek to accelerate the transition and transformation of industries and local players towards ESG adoption, even for SMEs," he said, adding that the government will engage with stakeholders to the national ESG framework for the manufacturing sector by 2024.

This year's Invest Malaysia is co-hosted by Bursa Malaysia, the country's stock exchange, and Malaysia's leading bank Maybank. The forum, Malaysia's largest annual capital market gathering, brings together local and foreign fund managers.

For his part, Bursa Malaysia Chairman Abdul Wahid Omar said that while the global economy remains uncertain and volatile, the situation has also made space for new strengths, such as an increased sense of urgency to develop and adopt technology and data-driven solutions.

He also said Malaysia would not take its eye off sustainable development and would redouble its efforts to implement these goals despite these inflation and economic challenges.

"Additionally, there seems to be renewed commitment and courage in global leadership and boardrooms to drive transformational changes such as the UN's sustainable development goals, the adoption of ESG principles, and the pursuit of a low carbon future to achieve the 1.5-degree Celsius pathway," he said.

Editor: Yu Huichen