News & Views

Malaysia – A Commonwealth Member making big moves in the UK.

Malaysia has been making a strong impact in its burgeoning trade ties with the UK at a time which coincides with the celebration of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday.

At a reception held on 28th April 2016 the British High Commissioner to Malaysia applauded the fact that:

“The Queen has been part of the UK and Malaysia’s journey together as two nations. Today, our relationship is one of partnership, underpinned by strong two-way trade and investment, education links, collaborations in scientific research, defence and security engagement.”

Indeed, it can be said that the shared history, business and legal culture between Malaysia and the UK provides for a familiarity between two Commonwealth nations which benefits trading relations. Malaysia has been a full Commonwealth Member since 1957. Even in these uncertain times following on from the EU referendum, Malaysia has acted ambitiously by continuing to invest in the UK in what can only be described as a profound show of confidence in future relations between the two countries regardless of which economic entity the UK finds itself.

On 17th May 2016, Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Malaysia’s sovereign wealth fund, launched its European headquarters in London’s tallest building, The Shard. In a bipartisan show of unity designed to bolster UK/Malaysia ties, the newly elected Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, was joined by the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Sajid Javid MP for the event. Mr Javid MP, who has followed Malaysia’s progress with a keen eye since his days in Singapore as a stockbroker, said that he saw how Malaysia “is a country that is really going places”.

Ahead of the launch, in front of a full house at the Malaysia-UK Investor Show­case held at Marlborough House, the Malaysian Prime Minister encouraged deeper bilateral ties, especially in new growth areas such as the Retail Sector given Malaysia’s emerging cosmopolitan middle class coupled with import duties gradually being reduced for British brands exporting products is a net benefit for both nations.

The Prime Minister spoke of the major Malaysian/UK investment currently taking shape in the £8bn regeneration of the Battersea Power Station. Influential industry leaders, such as property developer SP Setia, oil giant Sime Darby, and Employees Provident Fund, the largest Malaysian government pension fund, are behind the consortium that is developing the iconic site. The fact that Malaysia effectively outbid the world to develop the site should be perceived as a truly ground-breaking moment in their history as a Commonwealth Member.  Further, the Malaysian demand for UK property is clearly a key driver in bringing in business for commercial transactions and projects between the two Commonwealth partners. The event was attended by Sherrards’ franchising specialist, Mark Peters, representing the Alliott Group.

Following on from the EU referendum Britain’s relationships with other nations, particularly within the Commonwealth, have provided for a fresh focus. The UK Trade & Investment department (UKTI) at the UK’s Foreign Office states that “Malaysia is the UK’s second largest trading partner in the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASSEAN). UK and Malaysia aim to double bilateral trade from £4 billion to £8 billion by 2016.”

The UKTI further attests that benefits for UK businesses exporting to Malaysia include:-

  • English speaking, educated workforce
  • current exchange rate makes UK products and services attractive
  • strong historical and cultural ties
  • similar business and legal practices
  • similar technical standards
  • close to major Asia Pacific economies

Strengths of the Malaysian market include:

  • excellent infrastructure and transport connectivity
  • well-developed financial sector
  • cost-effective gateway into to Asian markets

Irrespective of whether Britain remains or leaves the EU, there will be countless trade and export opportunities between the two countries, and indeed the Commonwealth, encompassing a whole range of sectors and industries including:-

  • Construction
  • Creative Industries
  • Education and training
  • Energy (oil, gas, and alternative energy sources, such as nuclear, solar and hydro to deal with the demands from an increasing population)
  • Finance and legal services
  • Transportation

The belief shown by Malaysia in investing in London’s future is likely to be greeted with new levels of cooperation between the two countries resulting in mutual investment benefits to each.

The Alliott Group, a leading association of independent professional services firms, is a Commercial Partner to the Commonwealth Trade Initiative and recently held its Asia Pacific Regional Conference in Kuala Lumpur which was also attended by Laurel Zhang, Head of Sherrards Solicitors LLP’s China and Far East desk, further consolidating the firm’s ties to its client and friends in the region.

To find out more about the Alliott Group visit and Sherrards Solicitors LLP visit and speak to Paul Marmor, International Services Partner at  or Jean-Paul da Costa, Head of Corporate and Commercial.

Article co-authored by Jean-Paul da Costa, Head of Corporate and Commercial and Daniel Stander, Trainee Solicitor.

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