Greater Kuala Lumpur: The Epicentre of ASEAN

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Creating a successful business hub is not easy. But with the right environment and the right partners, a supportive ecosystem, and a strong vision for the future, that creation comes easier. Then, almost inevitably, that successful hub breeds even more success. Welcome to Greater Kuala Lumpur.

When companies like Schlumberger, Altran, Cargill, Philips, Linde, Hitachi, Turner, Cameron and Oleon wanted a regional headquarters in Southeast Asia, they all had specific requirements. They all wanted a central, well-connected, established and value-adding location that would enhance business and offer a springboard into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. They all set up regional hubs in Greater Kuala Lumpur.

“Kuala Lumpur is the city [we chose] as the launch pad to Southeast Asia,” explains Philippe Salle, Chairman and CEO at global innovation consultants Altran Group. “With an attractive ecosystem for inward investment, worldclass infrastructure, strong economic frameworks, and access to the rest of the ASEAN region, Kuala Lumpur [allows us] a fitting environment to continue to grow our presence in the market.”

Greater KL’s multitude of existing business platforms – across aviation, automotive, healthcare, telecoms, oil and gas, education, food processing, and smart environment sectors – are unparalleled in the region. With Malaysia’s expanding population scheduled to grow to 10 million (up 40%) by 2020, the prospects for investors in Greater KL are bright. Add the presence of the 600 million-strong Asian Economic Community regional market with a GDP of US$2.4 trillion and the reason so many MNCs move to Greater KL becomes clear. But Greater KL offers more than a massive potential market. It makes doing business easy.

“Greater KL is a great place for our business,” says Yong Tong Nye, Assistant GM (Finance & Admin), Epson Precision Malaysia Sdn Bhd. Yong underlines Greater KL’s investor-friendly policies, attractive and competitive tax incentives and good infrastructure as key attractions. These factors are underpinned by an impressive list of over 70 double tax agreements that mitigate cross-border tax burdens for MNCs, extremely attractive office rental rates, and a cost of doing business only around 30% of that in Singapore.

With Malaysia taking the chair as head of the ASEAN grouping in 2015, there will be more benefits to come. Indeed, the Malaysian government has already pledged to expand infrastructure investment growth by 4.2%, higher than Singapore (3.8%) and Hong Kong (2.6%). It has committed to a high speed rail link to Singapore; two new Mass Rapid Transit lines and to the planting of 40,000 new trees in a citywide Greater KL green space rejuvenation plan.

The result? Greater KL has seen over 40 major corporations invest more than RM3 billion in Greater KL in just three years, with more coming every year. With an expanding, talented, multi-lingual, and capable workforce and a multitude of business-friendly policies, Greater KL offers the prime location for regional investors coupled with the help of InvestKL to ease businesses through every stage of the setup process, it is the most welcoming, too.

As Jack Cummiskey, Vice President & Regional Manager of engineering project management company Turner International says, Greater KL’s promise is not only massive, it is unique. “The scope of developments here is breathtaking. This place has opportunities it is hard to find elsewhere,” says Cummiskey. “There are no arguments against Kuala Lumpur.”

Research indicates that in the decade to 2020, new infrastructure projects such as ports, airports, roads, railways and other major developments projects will generate increasingly large inputs into the sector. Many Greater KL-based companies are tapping into this booming ASEAN FDI sector, which totalled US$27 billion in 2013, up from US$18.1 billion in 2012.


“I am confident we can expand to any scale we foresee out of Greater KL,” says Turner’s Cummiskey. “It is the most business-friendly place we looked at, and with InvestKL we knew that whatever hurdles we came across we had a partner to help us out.” Indeed, says a recent PwC report on regional cities, the successbreeds- success effect is already working in Greater KL. “Greater KL is by general consensus one of Asia’s most dynamic capitals, and increasingly a major global city,” it asserted. With InvestKL’s help, that successful process continues.

Read This: International Education in Greater KL a Major Appeal for Expats

Source: The Expat magazine January 2015

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