UK open to collaborating with Khazanah on new national car project

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KUALA LUMPUR (July 11): The United Kingdom (UK) is open to collaborating with Khazanah Nasional Bhd in the development of the new national car project (NNCP) in a bid to help Malaysia realise its carbon emission reduction goal.

With the UK's expertise in electric vehicles (EV) manufacturing, Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Peter Estlin, believed that the UK would be able to help Malaysia fulfil the pledge of reducing 45% of carbon dioxide emission by 2030.

“It is an area of possibility (to collaborate with Khazanah) as Malaysia’s focus is on low carbon economy.

“But we need to understand which part of it we (want to) focus on. If automotive is one of them, and if EV is one of the elements, then there is an opportunity there,” he told Bernama here in conjunction with his two-day official visit to Malaysia recently.

Estlin, who also serves as a global ambassador for UK-based financial and professional services industry from Nov 9, 2018 for a one-year term, said British multinational automotive company, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive Plc, had recently committed nearly £1 billion pound investment in the EV production in the UK.

With that, both industry players from the UK and Malaysia could look into collaboration in areas such as battery development or other advanced manufacturing of the EV, he added.

Earlier this year, Entrepreneur Development Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Redzuan Mohd Yusof was reported as saying that the NNCP, set to be launched in 2020, would be an energy-efficient vehicle, sparking speculations that the next car project will be an EV powered fully by fuel cells.

Meanwhile, in May this year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also assured that the third national car project which he mooted would be fully funded by "private entities", such as Khazanah's wholly-owned unit SilTerra Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

It is understood that Estlin had met Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Attorney General Tommy Thomas, as well as representatives from Khazanah, Securities Commission Malaysia and Financial Technology (fintech) Association during his two-day visit which ended on Tuesday.

The visit aimed at strengthening trade ties between the two countries, as well as to explore more opportunities in areas such as green sukuk, green financing and fintech, including the collaboration on enhancing fintech regulations in Malaysia.

Touching on the UK investors' sentiment in Malaysia, Estlin admitted that the lack of clarity in the government's strategic framework had been a concern for them to invest in the country.

"The world is moving rapidly, and we have a lot of investments coming to Malaysia.

"In order for that to continue, we need clarity as to what is the strategic vision or strategic framework going forward, because we try to move away from short-term investing into sustainable investing," he added.

The UK is the eighth largest foreign investor in Malaysia, with RM22.3 billion worth of foreign direct investments as of 2018.