Asean collaboration to cushion trade war impact

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is looking to enhance its collaboration with Asean neighbours to cushion the impact of the US-China trade war, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

A trade war between the world’s two largest economies he said, is bound to fracture the world trading system.

Businesses said Dr Mahathir needs to plan smoothly and avoid disruption.

“We need to build capacity by developing our competitiveness. We must also develop our own world-class companies that can take on all rivals.

Dr Mahathir

Dr Mahathir

“One way to achieve this is by identifying our assets and capabilities so as to enhance our capacities to take advantage of the new technologies and then include the quality of our human resources,” he said in his keynote address at the ISIS Praxis Conference here today.

The US-China mega-trade war he said, might be a symptom of something far worse — growing rivalry between the world’s two biggest powers developing into another Cold War.

He said, even if the geostrategic rivalry is not already behind their current trade dispute, it is likely to be the result of this prolonged trade dispute on a global scale.

“It is disappointing to see the proponents of free trade now indulging in restrictive trade on a grand scale.

“Unfortunately, we are caught in the middle. Economically we are linked to both markets, and physically we are also caught in between for geographical reasons. There is even a suggestion that we ourselves would be a target for sanctions,” he said.

Commenting on internal challenges, he said one of the biggest currently faced by the government was mopping up the mess left behind after successfully toppling the kleptocratic regime and rebuilding the nation.

Dr Mahathir said for the country to recover and to grow, the machinery of government must be restored and made efficient by practising zero corruption. – Bernama