SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 15: As the United States (US)-Malaysia Comprehensive Partnership enters its 10th year in 2024, both countries are set to formulate a practical plan by end of this year to further strengthen it, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said.
“The next year will be 10 years since Malaysia and the US elevated their bilateral relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership in April 2014.
“We will formulate a practical plan by the end of this year on how we could further strengthen this partnership for the benefit of Malaysians, Americans, and the wider region,” he said during a special lecture titled ”Super Power Rivalry and Rising Tensions in the Asia Pacific” at the University of California, Berkeley, near here.
He said although Malaysia’s relations with the US do not capture the same kind of attention as those involving China, Japan, or the Philippines, it is regardless a crucial one.
“It is neither an alliance nor particularly contentious, it often seems as if the relationship is destined to hide in plain sight. But thinking so would be a disservice to the long years of collaboration and mutual respect that our two nations have built,” he told the audience of over 250 students.
Anwar, who is also the Finance Minister, said Malaysia regards its strategic relations with the US as crucial to its economic vibrancy and national security interests. This position stems from an objective, rational and perhaps utilitarian assessment of how best to serve Malaysia’s needs on the world stage.
“The facts speak for themselves – the US ranks among our largest foreign investors, with over US$100 billion (US$1=RM4.72) pledged just this year across manufacturing, services, and digital sectors. And that is likely an undercount, as many US firms channel investments through subsidiaries across Asia and Europe.
“The US stands as Malaysia’s third largest trading partner, while we are America’s 17th largest export market,” he said.
Defence and security cooperation represents a vital anchor for the broader relationship, Anwar said.
“Malaysia conducts more bilateral and multilateral military exercises with the US than with any of our other partners: 11 bilateral and five multilateral exercises annually.
“These help to build critical capacity and readiness for our forces. Between 2018 and 2022, US security assistance exceeded US$220 million, providing equipment, training, and other vital support,” he said.
In addition, the two nations engage in cooperative efforts to enhance maritime security and combat transnational menaces such as cybercrime, terrorism, violent extremism, and drug trafficking.
He said these concerns surpass national boundaries, and their resolution necessitates collaborative effort that capitalises on collective capacities, the prime minister said.
Beyond security ties, he noted that Malaysia has become a robust partner to the US across spheres like education, climate change, public health, and empowering marginalised communities.
Thousands of Malaysian students enrol in American universities each year, seeking a world-class education before returning home to contribute to national development.
Malaysia keen to leverage on IPEF
Anwar said Malaysia also participates actively in the US-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), showcasing its commitment to regional economic integration and collaboration.
“As a nation strategically positioned in Southeast Asia, Malaysia views the IPEF as a vital platform to enhance trade, strengthen supply chains, promote sustainable practices, and support anti-corruption measures alongside other participating countries,” he said.
He added that the Malaysian government is keen on leveraging the IPEF to not only advance its own economic interests but also to contribute significantly to the development of the framework’s key pillars.
Malaysia, on the other hand, offers an unmatched capacity to be a reliable partner on critical technologies, he said.
For over 50 years, Malaysia has been home to leading technology multinationals, particularly in electronics and semiconductors.
“Malaysia plays a pivotal role in the global tech industry, supplying 25 per cent of the semiconductor components that power the US’s technology demands,” he said.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford’s production of their iconic F-150 pick-up truck hinged crucially on Malaysia’s decision to reopen its industrial operations.
Half of all composite wing parts for Boeing and Airbus planes are made in Malaysia.
“We are also a vital link in medical technology supply chains, with nearly 300 companies employing 70,000 skilled workers,” Anwar said.
Further, giants like Intel, Infineon, and Amazon Web Services are investing billions more to expand cutting-edge production capacity in Malaysia.
Approved foreign investments in the first quarter of this year rose 67 per cent year-on-year, reaching over RM17 billion.
“Malaysia is seizing opportunities and delivering results – and in doing so, we have become an important link in the global supply chain for critical technologies,” he said.