In The Spotlight

Brexit & Malaysia: A New Opportunity by BMCC and MATRADE

23 Aug 2016

The BMCC together with MATRADE collaborated to host Brexit and Malaysia: A New Opportunity; a trade talk featuring a speech by the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, H.E. Vicki Treadell and a keynote address by the Minister of International Trade and Industry, YB Dato’ Sri Mustafa bin Mohamed. The event was supported by MITI, the Department of International Trade (DIT) and the British High Commission Kuala Lumpur.

“Brexit does mean Brexit,” affirmed the Vicki Treadell in her introduction, reverberating the now well-known battle maxim of UK Prime Minister Theresa May. It was doubtless, at least for the 400 in attendance comprised of government officials, representatives of both private and public enterprises as well as members of the media, that the message of this event was that of encouragement and substantiated optimism following the ambivalence of the British referendum to leave the European Union.

Treadell sought out to debunk several myths revolving Brexit, beginning with the whispers of a shrinking United Kingdom. She assured the identity of this sovereign nation state would in no way diminish over the mere circumstance of an EU exit, for the UK still remains a resolute member of the United Nations, NATO, The Group of Seven and the G20 Summit. Along with the alliance of the commonwealth countries that remain under the strong belt of Great Britain, the voices of the British people as a collective power will continue to be prominent in the global arena.

“We have our marching orders from Prime Minister Theresa May. We will be more energetic on the world stage; we will be on the front foot; we are not a shrinking Britain. We will hold fast to a vision of Britain that is respected abroad, and we will earn this respect,” beckoned Vicki Treadell.

With this, the theme “Great Britain is Open for Business” was reiterated with the vitality of a rejuvenated nation, confident that its EU departure will not impede its international trade ties. Treadell went on to lay out the strong national fundamentals, which included education, multiculturalism, labour skills and financial services.

Her Excellency also brought to light Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which sets the grounds for UK to leave the EU officially. “When article 50 is [expected] invoked sometime next year (according to Prime Minister Theresa May) it opens a 2 year time frame to prepare Britain for the exit; to negotiate and set the exit terms with the remaining EU nations.”

Another myth Treadell sought to dispel was the hampering of Malaysia’s free-trade agreement (FTA) with the EU and with Great Britain. “We want to progress the Malaysian FTA” she says. “We believe in free trade. Why would we step back on the very thing we are all about. We’ll continue to support FTA and the TPPA. In the past 20 years, number of FTA have increased four folds and leaving the EU gives us back control of our own trade policies with the world.”

YB Dato’ Sri Mustapa who later addressed the audience believes that Brexit will not undo the strong ties Malaysia has with the UK. “Britain remains one of the biggest military and economic powers, and will be even more open for business.”

In like manner, “Malaysia is open for business as well”, the Minister assured. As there is a huge British presence in Malaysia, the aim is to work towards a win-win situation. Citing the example of Khazanah opening an office in London, he says it isn’t just “a gateway not only to UK but also to Europe.”

The event also featured a panel discussion with Matt Chandran (CEO of iGene Sdn Bhd), Nick Glover, Regional (VP of BAE Systems), Nick White (Partner of Trowers & Hamlins) and Paul Matthews (Country Manager of UES International); moderated by Stephen Hill from the Department of International Trade.