President’s Message

Tan Sri Azman Hashim



Greetings and Best Wishes for 2021!

2020 was an extraordinarily unprecedented year of trials and challenges. The Covid-19 pandemic curtailed the global economy. The swift downward economic spiral as a result of containment measures created demand and supply shocks which added to the challenges of losing lives and livelihoods. It has been 10 months since the pandemic was declared. Governments across the globe resorted to expansive stimulus measures to contain the economic fallout from further deterioration.

The Malaysian economy contracted by 8.3% in the first half of 2020 with a decline of 17.1% in the second quarter. For the year 2020, our economy is expected to contract by 4.5%. The stimulus packages effected by our Government namely, Prihatin, PrihatinPKS+, the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) and KITA Prihatin, totalling RM305 billion is anticipated to help our economy recover with its spillover effects into 2021.

GDP growth for 2021 is projected to rebound to between 6.5% and 7.5%. This will be supported by strong economic fundamentals from a well diversified economy. However, this favourable outlook will hinge on 2 major factors, i.e. the successful containment of the pandemic and a sustained recovery in external demand.

This pandemic accelerated the push for businesses to go digital. This move online was imperative for businesses to stay afloat. There was an acceleration of learning, relearning, adapting and innovating with the pivot to the online world through the use of technology. In many ways 2020 has been a reset year. We must use this momentum to drive lasting change in the way we do business and the way we will live.

I would like to congratulate our Government for two very significant outcomes in the recent months, achieved inspite of unprecedented challenges the region faced amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. The signing of the RCEP on 15 November 2020 by our Prime Minister, YAB Muhyiddin bin Haji Muhammad Yassin together with 14 other Heads of Government was a very significant step to integrate three major economic blocs of Asean, Northeast Asia and Australia and New Zealand, bringing major benefits to all member countries. This RCEP represents the world’s largest Free Trade Agreement, covering 30% of the world’s gross domestic product and world population, and 27% of the world’s total trade value in 2019. Since the beginning of the initiation for the formation of the RCEP, the East Asia Business Council (EABC) represented the views of the Private Sector and EABC actively promoted and presented their recommendations at each and every annual meeting of the Leaders of ASEAN and the Plus 3 (China, Japan, Korea). EABC (Malaysia Chapter) of which I am Chairman is a consistent and persistent supporter of the RCEP.

Our Government hosted the 27th APEC leader’s meeting in 20 November 2020, through a first ever virtual meeting platform, chaired by our Prime Minister. The leaders of the 21 APEC member countries successfully concluded the meeting with the issuance of 2 landmark documents, namely the Leader’s Kuala Lumpur Declaration and the launch of the APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040. The 21 leaders pledged to work together to support priorities to combat and mitigate the impact of COVID-19, implore the narrative of trade and investments, strive for an inclusive economic participation through digital economy and technology, drive innovative and inclusive sustainability whilst strengthening stakeholder engagement.

The APEC Putrajaya Vision 2040 will chart the future of the region, envisioning an open dynamic, resilient and peaceful Asia-Pacific community by 2040 for the prosperity of all the people and future generations. Just like the Bogor Goals 2020 before it, the Putrajaya Vision 2040 will be a feature at every annual Leaders’ Meetings of APEC until 2040. A great image for Putrajaya and Malaysia!

These two events will position Malaysia to be at the centre of a dynamic economic region that is expected to grow exponentially. As private sector businesses, we must grasp this opportunity to strengthen our export competitiveness and efficiency and enlarge our market share in all our lines of business.

Going forward we can expect challenging economic headwinds in 2021 as we endeavour to recover from the economic crisis of 2020.  Let us all move forward together with a renewed mindset and embrace the transition to adapt lifelong learning, unlearning and be receptive to new ways of developing and undertaking new businesses.

I appreciate the continuing support and cooperation of all members, especially my fellow Executive Committee members with your attendance and participation at our regular meetings and your generous contributions.

I also wish to thank all our supporters who have contributed valuable and insightful articles to our Newsletter for 2020.

I wish everyone a happy, healthy and successful 2021.


Tan Sri Azman Hashim