Malaysia, a top three destination for Middle Eastern, Indian firms

  • Tied 3rd with S’pore for top three destinations 
  • Petrochemicals, renewable energy among key attractions

Malaysia, a top three destination for Middle Eastern, Indian firms Middle East companies focusing on Asean are positive about business growth in the region with a significant 78% viewing Malaysia as their top Asean market for expansion. 

This is according to a survey commissioned by Standard Chartered for its “Borderless Business: Middle East-ASEAN Corridor,” a strategic report that explores high-potential opportunities for cross-border growth in this corridor.

In a statement, the bank said a similar sentiment is shared in another survey which it conducted in the “Borderless Business: India-Asean Corridor” survey for Indian companies with an Asean focus. 

It added that Malaysia is tied in third place with neighbour Singapore as the top three most preferred destinations among Indian companies looking at expansion in Asean.

According to Abrar Anwar, managing director and chief executive officer, Standard Chartered Malaysia, Asean is a fast-growing trade bloc with increasing economic and financial influence, and it continues to see a growing number of opportunities for businesses in the region. 

“Having grown with Malaysia over the last 147 years and being the only international bank present in all ten Asean markets, we are well-positioned to support companies from the Middle East and India to venture into Malaysia and help our clients leverage these potential growth opportunities.

“We are committed to delivering sustainable trade finance solutions to our clients as we foresee these trade corridors growing rapidly on the back of a strong government impetus and a perceptible shift in consumer demand in favour of clean technology,” said Anwar.

The report cites increased collaboration through multiple regional and country-level alliances between the Middle East and Asean having enabled greater participation of Middle East companies in Southeast Asia. 

Key growth sectors for Malaysia in the report’s growth watchlist that are attractive to Middle East companies are refining and petrochemicals, renewable energy, and retail and consumer goods, the report noted.

In this regard, Malaysia has established integrated petrochemical zones that offer centralised utilities, storage services and a comprehensive transportation network, to help reduce capital and operations costs for companies, the report stated. 

The country has also emerged as a major hub for solar photovoltaic (PV) production and is a key market for halal goods as it works towards building a stronger halal ecosystem between Asean and the Middle East, it added.

The survey also outlines that government-led programmes continue to play a key role in facilitating business activity in the India-Asean corridor as India views Asean as an important growth partner under its ‘Act East Policy’.

Key growth sectors in the report’s growth watchlist that are drawing Indian companies to Malaysia are digitalisation, renewable energy and electric vehicles, it said.

India-based technology companies have made inroads into Malaysia as part of the national MyDigital initiative and the country’s response to the pandemic that included measures to boost digital payments and e-commerce, it added.

Malaysia has also emerged as a major destination for the manufacturing of PV systems. Such expansion plans, the report said, are creating new opportunities for Indian businesses seeking to invest or provide solutions to help attain Asean’s sustainability objectives. 

All surveyed Indian companies expect their business to increase production in Asean while more than 90% of them project growth in revenue (93%) over the next 12 months, it added.

To download the Standard Chartered Borderless Business: Middle East-ASEAN Corridor and Borderless Business: India-ASEAN Corridor reports, visit: 


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