Event Reports

The 19th Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference 2017

by Wolfgang Hruschka †

Malaysia at 60: Forging Ahead

This Strategic Outlook conference is held at the beginning of each year to analyse the key trends, strategic challenges and critical issues facing Malaysia in 2017, politically and economically. This year's conference took place one day after the decision of US President Trump to leave the Trans Pacific Partnership. The Malaysian Government reacted calmly and underlined that they were looking for new options in close coordination with the remaining TPP partners.

This year's 19th Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference 2017 of the think tank "Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute-ASLI" in cooperation with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Malaysia, took place in Kuala Lumpur with participation of the Minister of Plantation Ministry, Dato' Seri Mah Siew Keong and the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, Economic Planning Unit, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan addressing 300 participants, members of the diplomatic community, and decision makers in politics, the private and the state sectors.

Malaysia and ASEAN are facing turbulent times, the global economy is going through a period of uncertainty and instability. Even more so, after the US administration has announced to leave the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). But the politicians and the experts in this conference remained optimistic. Domestically, the Malaysian economy remains robust with a 4.6% GDP growth though cost of living and cost of doing business have gone up. The experts agreed on one point: Malaysia needs urgently an "Innovation Tsunami" regarding soft infrastructure, education and digital economy.

The collapse of the TPP means a missed opportunity for Malaysia, but there are other options which can be followed. Among them are the enhancement of the economic integration of ASEAN, an agreement to implement the "Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership" and possible bilateral free-trade agreements with the ten remaining TPP member states.