The government has aggressively explored and became party to numerous trade deals, either bilateral or multilateral.
A stark contrast to past conservative policies, the gradual liberalisation of the Malaysian economy began seeing a more rapid acceleration.
This is seen through our strong commitment to regional collaborations such as the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), current negotiations within the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as well as the controversial Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) to name a few.
At the same time, we have worked on several bilateral agreements to expand the reach of Malaysia's businesses with economies such as Iran and China.
All trade negotiations will be subject to difference of opinions and heated debate. Such debate exchanges are natural by-products of a democracy, as all international trade pacts are subject to scrutiny by the populace of participating nations, clamouring for clarity on the fairness of each deal.
Even the TPPA has been subject to uncertainty, seen through its opposition from the very start of negotiations, as well as withdrawal symptoms from the recent transition of administration in the United States.
Regardless, it is the government's position to shed conservative viewpoints surrounding global trade, and working more aggressively towards full participation in the global economy.
The logic is simple - Malaysia’s 30 million population is too small a market for us to rely on an inward-looking economy to develop and expand, and this holds true particularly for our local automotive industry.
It is important to embrace the change that is taking shape at the global stage – the world market is more open, consumers are more demanding, impact to environment is becoming more pertinent, etc. The underlying factor to be in control of this change is none other than to enhance competitiveness in all aspects, be it social, economic or governance.
Furthermore, trends are clear in showing that the way of conducting business will change because of technological advances in communication, as well as data transfer and collection.
For example, conventional marketing methods restricted small and medium industries to smaller areas and localities, due to tight advertising and marketing budgets in the past. Today however, the traditional out-bound marketing has been replaced with in-bound methodologies, i.e. the cost barriers of traditional airtime have been replaced with more affordable digital options, allowing marketers to focus more on exemplifying their content, product value and optimising consumer awareness towards their expertise.
Lastly, the world is closing on the pinnacle of globalisation, meaning that countries holding rigid on internal border economics have a high potential of losing competitiveness, making them less preferred trade destinations.
Therefore, despite the numerous polemics, the global economic movements and trends no longer provide much choice for smaller economies - the only way forward is to participate and embrace it.
Nevertheless, how we choose to embrace global participation makes all the difference - and if in our stride we choose the path of creativity, innovation, meticulousness and customer consciousness (to name a few), perhaps we don't play to stay, but we play to win.
This article is the first of a series in participating in the global economy as strong contenders. In future articles, we delve deeper into the intricacies of the global economic trends, as well as analysing our competitive advantage towards sustainable global competitiveness.
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive Institute.
Read the third part of the series articles here: http://bit.ly/2knsNhQ