Malaysia aims to attract foreign investments in EV, chip industries – trade minister

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia is scouting for foreign investors in high-value industries such as electric vehicles, semiconductors and carbon capture, its trade and investment minister said on Thursday.

Malaysia is long known to be a manufacturing hub, and is now hoping to move up the value chain on well-established industries such as energy and electricals.

“We need to look at the right kind of investment. Because some of the investment does not bring in the kind of spillover that we want,” Tengku Zafrul Aziz told Reuters in an interview.

Malaysia is eyeing new areas such as carbon capture, usage and storage because it has a lot of oil wells, and supplying components for electric vehicles (EVs), Tengku Zafrul said.

EVs are a “natural progression” for Malaysia, which has an established electrical and electronics industry, especially in semiconductor chips, he said.

“That’s why we are pushing very hard because we supply many of the components to the car,” Tengku Zafrul said. Each electric vehicle is estimated to have over 1,400 chips.

Even in the semiconductor industry, Malaysia wants to develop beyond assembly and testing, he said. The country is a major player in the semiconductor industry, accounting for about 13% of global testing and packaging.

“We want to move to front end, which is integrated circuit design and wafer fabrication,” he said.

Malaysia is also eyeing the aerospace, petrochemicals, digital economy and pharmaceutical industries for foreign investments.

Tengku Zafrul said he will be meeting with potential investors in the United States next week, ahead of meetings with leaders of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).

(Reporting by A. Ananthalakshmi and Danial Azhar; Editing by Martin Petty)