Time for a paradigm shift

The shock election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of United States is a timely reminder for Malaysia that we need a new paradigm to face up to the new realities of the world economy.

First, one of the clearest outcomes of the election of Donald Trump -whose main focus in government would be to create jobs for US citizens- is that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) is dead. Malaysia needs a new paradigm beyond export-led industralisation as its only strategy. A long-term rethinking of our economic framework is crucial.
Malaysia has been dependent on export-oriented industrialisation since 1970. The model no longer works. We can no longer export low-end products with an industrial workforce mostly formed by unskilled foreign labour.

The instinctive response by members of the Government that with the death of TPPA, Malaysia now looks to export to China, may not work in reality. It will take some years before China can replace United States as the final destination for industrial export as China is still very much a competitor-exporter to the US.

Second, global trade is likely to decline in 2017 as growth in Europe and China slow down while US is not likely to import more from Asia. Malaysia needs a clear strategy for the short term too.

I call on MITI to lead the national soul searching for a new economic model that goes beyond export-oriented industralisation which is now based mostly on production by low-end unskilled foreign labour.

MITI’s mission is not just about trade. It is also about industry. MITI has a role to reshape the next generation of Malaysian industries which is based on skills and technology, and generate middle class to high income for the Malaysian workers.

Instead of just focusing on the next trade deal, MITI and the Federal Government needs to re-look at Malaysia’s industries and take it to the next level.

A paradigm shift is long overdue.

(Speech by DAP National Political Education Director and MP for Kluang Liew Chin Tong on 14th November 2016 in Parliament during the Committee stage debate on the budget allocations for the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.)

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