On 25 January, the BMCC hosted a special webinar with His Excellency Charles Hay MVO, British High Commissioner to Malaysia. Key topics of conversation included updates on the EU Exit, bilateral trade relations with Malaysia and the UK government’s priorities for 2021.
His Excellency cited the UK’s presidency of the G7 Summit and COP26 climate change conference as key highlights of the UK government’s priorities for 2021. The UK’s G7 presidency this year is all the more significant as it will be the first opportunity for leaders of the world’s most advanced economies to talk face-to-face about building back from the coronavirus pandemic, and uniting to make a fairer, greener and more prosperous future. Leveraging the summit to intensify cooperation among the world’s democratic and technologically advanced nations, the UK Prime Minister has invited leaders from Australia, India and South Korea as guest countries ─ together these 10 countries represent over 60 percent of people living in democracies around the world. The UK is also looking to other G7 members to agree to further global action on climate change ahead of the COP26 in November. His Excellency said the UK is working closely with Malaysia on all these issues, including vaccines and healthcare, sharing expertise on climate transition, plastics and sustainability.
On COP26 and climate change, the UK has announced a green industrial revolution and this is a clear signal of where the UK economy will be heading; the UK has also committed to a 68 percent carbon emission cut by 2030 and aims to do more this year to encourage Malaysia to commit to a net zero target. While the pandemic has impacted UK and Malaysia’s prosperity, His Excellency is heartened to note continued collaboration on economic development and the promotion of more and better trade and investment across different sectors such as education, health, future smart cities, low carbon energy, Islamic finance and fintech, digital and other economic regulatory policy, and thanked the BMCC for its support and work in this area.
With regard to the EU Exit, as of 1 January 2021, EU trade agreements no longer apply. However, this has a relatively small impact on Malaysia because there has never been a trade agreement between the EU and Malaysia, so bilateral trade will continue on the same basis as before. Nevertheless, Malaysian businesses that export to the UK may be affected by the introduction of the UK Global Tariff and are advised to visit the new “Trade with UK” online tool on the gov.uk website for information on taxes, tariffs, commodity codes, regulations and goods entering Northern Ireland.
The UK is keen to look at ways to boost trade and investment with Malaysia including dealing with trade barriers between the UK and Malaysia. A joint committee was established with Malaysia on bilateral trade and investment cooperation late last year, and this year there will be six working groups examining how to grow trade in areas such as education, legal services, wines and spirits and halal products, and develop cooperation on areas such as conformity assessments and SME development.
In addition, His Excellency mentioned the UK has put in a formal application for dialogue partnership with ASEAN, citing this as one of the big priorities for the UK government as part of its tilt to the Indo-Pacific in moving beyond the EU Exit towards a global Britain.
His Excellency also said that one of the prominent opportunities arising for Malaysia from the EU Exit is the UK’s withdrawal from the Erasmus educational exchange programme. It is to be replaced by the Turing programme which enables UK students to study globally, and Malaysia, with its excellent education ties with the UK should be a natural home for Turing students.
Abrar Anwar, CEO and Managing Director of Standard Chartered, Malaysia and BMCC Chairman provided the opening remarks and moderated the conversation, while Jennifer Lopez, BMCC Chief Executive Officer, was the emcee for the event.
Watch the webinar replay here: