Monday, April 11, 2011

I’m Back!! A Korean Digression

If you’re wondering on my silence over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been on a trip to Korea as part of the business delegation following the PM.


We were on very short notice for the trip, which necessitated some pretty frantic preparations. Nor was there time at all for sight seeing of any kind – I don’t think I moved more than a block from the hotel the whole time except for a short trip to the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry and obviously the airport. I barely saw my hotel room except to sleep.

Having said that, it was a pretty interesting trip – I made a lot of useful contacts, and learned a great deal.


I can’t talk about more than what was publicly revealed, but the trip did involve the creation of a Malaysia-Korea Business Council (on our part) and a Korea Malaysia Business Council (on the Korean side):


The role of these two bodies is to facilitate discussions on business matters between the private sector, beyond the existing government to government framework. The end goal is to basically double trade between the two countries by 2015, which is pretty ambitious even with the ASEAN-Korea FTA, considering it took a full ten years for it to double previously.

Korea is already Malaysia’s sixth largest trade partner and obviously has much to offer in terms of technical and engineering expertise. So what’s in it for the Koreans? Basically, a cheaper production base (not much of an advantage, I’d grant, compared to the alternatives), raw material availability (big one, this), and as a hub for the ASEAN region. We don’t have much of a domestic market yet, and it’s pretty much a toss-up whether all the incentives, regulations and other factors really matter to them.

So even though the PM came back with RM5 billion in investment commitments, long term we’ll have to show we’re a better bet than say Indonesia, where the Koreans have been investing in a big way and don’t mind saying so.

I’ll be writing more about this off and on (about a couple of times a year), as I’m rather deeply involved with this. So stay tuned.


  1. Welcome back!

    If you need any lit-search, if it's for our country, ask away...

  2. Cool and useful links walla, thank you!