Malaysia: Singapore’s closest neighbour

Malaysia is a convenient first point of expansion for Singapore companies due to its proximity, socio-cultural similarity and larger market size. The Johor-Singapore causeway is one of the world’s busiest border crossings, testifying to the close links between both countries. More than 250,000 commuters make the land crossing each day.

Government-led growth

In 2010, Malaysia embarked upon an ambitious Economic Transformation programme, aiming to become a high-income economy with per capita Gross National Income (GNI) of US$15,000 by 2020. The plan involves transforming its business landscape through initiatives such as human capital development and the liberalisation of service sectors. These new initiatives, coupled with a rising middle class, mean increasing opportunities in areas such as healthcare, education, and consumer-related sectors like food and retail.

Five economic growth corridors

Malaysia has identified 5 economic corridors where further development will be focused: Iskandar Malaysia, East Coast Economic Region, Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) and the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). Each has their own investment incentives governed by their respective promotional agencies.

Venture to Malaysia

It is not surprising that Singapore’s closest neighbour is our second-largest trading partner after China, with total bilateral trade amounting to S$93.8 billion in 2016. Traditionally known as one of the top exporters of natural rubber and palm oil, the resource-rich nation has successfully diversified its economy to include manufacturing, services and tourism. Malaysia’s focus on high-value foreign investments presents opportunities for investors in areas such as tourism, healthcare and transport, among others.