KUALA LUMPUR: Domestic investors are not discriminated against in the rush to attract foreign direct investment, a senior government official said.
International Trade and Industry Ministry’s Asean economic cooperation division senior director Datuk P. Ravidran said domestic investors were given more assistance by the government compared to foreign investors.
“Depending a lot on foreign direct investment does not mean we are giving a lot of leeway to it. In Asean, I know for sure we are not discriminating against domestic investors.
“In fact, domestic investors are given more than their foreign counterparts in terms of soft loans and grants,” he said in a talk on trade liberalisation at the Asean People’s Forum at Wisma MCA here yesterday.
Ravidran said Asean countries needed foreign direct investment for technology exchange as well as creating job opportunities.
“We can’t rely solely on domestic investment to create jobs,” he said.
Dr Chris Lingle, a visiting professor in economics based in Guatemala, was opposed to the prioritisation of foreign direct investment as compared to domestic investment.
“Every producer must be subjected to competition,” Dr Lingle said.
Ravidran, however, said trade liberalisation could not be done overnight and must be carried out progressively.
“If you open up (the trade) overnight, some of these small medium enterprises will be wiped out,” he said.
He added that foreign direct investment had helped Asean countries do well in its economic integration for the past years, resulting in an improved business environment for the member countries.