Malaysia is Central to Southeast Asia's Future

Although you don't hear much about it outside the region, the nations of Southeast Asia are integrating politically and economically in a process that many observers have compared to the development of the European Union. A single currency, open borders and unified tax and regulatory regimes may not be in the near-term future, but Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are indeed creating a platform for long-term growth through increased cooperation.

At the heart of the region is Malaysia, which chairs ASEAN this year and has committed to forming the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 31 December. The goal is a single regional market in which workers, goods and capital can flow more easily to build on the re-shoring boom and boost foreign investment as well as domestic incomes and consumption. As one of the region's fastest-growing economies and most influential members, Malaysia undoubtedly will continue to play a major role in the AEC's development and provide outsized opportunities for companies interested in launching, expanding or optimizing their operations in Southeast Asia.

Strong performer
With 30 million citizens, Malaysia ranks 42nd globally in population but 28th in economic production and 18th in ease of doing business. The nation's economy, which grew 6 percent last year, has been a strong and relatively consistent performer for decades. Since the 1980s it has also become increasingly privatized, modernized and diversified. Malaysia -- once the plaything of European colonizers seeking palm oil, rubber and tin -- now offers myriad opportunities to forward-thinking companies of all kinds, particularly those in the energy, technology and consumer products sectors.

One key factor behind the nation's success is its geography. Malaysia is located at the heart of a diverse, dynamic region and situated near the center of the triangle formed by Australia, India and China. Long a dominant force in regional sea trade, Malaysia's high-performing neighbors such as Thailand to the north and supremely business-friendly Singapore to the south have also helped spur its development. Combined with its plentiful natural resources, an educated and skilled workforce, and solid transportation infrastructure, Malaysia's location is certain to continue paying dividends for everyone who participates in its continued growth.

Vast opportunity
UTi's Mark Debattista, Managing Director, Malaysia and Singapore, calls it "a country of vast opportunity. We operate in a steady economy which translates into a growing and more sophisticated marketplace positioned at the heart of Southeast Asia." Established in 1993, UTi Malaysia is a top-10 supply chain player in the market with core strengths in freight forwarding (air, ocean and road, including cross-border and customs brokerage services). UTi Malaysia also offers warehousing and contract logistics through exclusive third-party providers.

UTi's more than 100 team members in Malaysia operate in five key locations: Kuala Lumpur/Port Klang, Penang (both mainland and island), Johor Bahru on the Singapore border, and a new office in Kuantan to serve the growing needs of energy clients. "We tailor our services to meet the demands of our clients regardless of how simple or sophisticated they may be," Debattista says. "Our clients expect more from us each day and we in turn accept this challenge by serving as an extension of their business on a common path to improve speed of delivery, efficiencies, productivity and time through the supply chain cycle."

Key ingredients
As UTi clients around the world have found, the ingredients for achieving that success are no secret. "Hands down I believe UTi Malaysia offers the client a group of people who react promptly and accurately to their needs," Debattista says. "Our attention to detail is second to none and gives our clients the peace of mind they deserve. We operate in a consultative and energized manner which means we take the time to understand the needs of our clients on an individual level. We also leverage upon the overall experience we have in the marketplace to share ideas with our clients on ways we can all do things in a smarter and leaner fashion."

That focus on delivering quantified value and competitive advantage has been rewarded with strong, long-term relationships enabling UTi Malaysia to grow with its clients' businesses. The client-centric approach has also been recognized by the industry and trade press -- most recently in December, when UTi Malaysia won a Top-10 Asia Pacific Business Award from SME Magazine and Business Media International. "This award recognizes fast-moving companies who display an agile approach to their business and offer best-in-class services to the market," Debattista says. "The award is something we are very proud of and was won because of our key element -- our people."

To learn more about how UTi can help your business succeed in Malaysia and throughout Southeast Asia, contact UTi Regional Vice President Vikram Paul.

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