UK to bring largest tech delegation to Malaysia, strengthen digital partnership

BRITISH High Commissioner Vicki Treadell and Malaysia’s Treasury Secretary-General Mohd Irwan Serigar yesterday launched the UK Mega Tech diplomatic mission to bolster the digital partnership between both countries.

The soft launch was held at the Common Ground co-working space in Kuala Lumpur yesterday and is the beginning of yet another digitally-focused partnership between Britain and Malaysia, following the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Treadell and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) CEO Yasmin Mahmood.

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The program will involve 50 representatives of UK technology companies coming over to Malaysia, marking the largest technology delegation from the UK ever to visit Malaysia. They will undergo various business matching sessions, pitching events and panel discussions about the technology scene, which will hopefully plot future tie-ups between business entities in both countries. The delegation is due to arrive in early October.

Treadell noted since the MoU signed between her and Yasmin, around RM270 million (US$62 million) in investments have flowed from UK pockets into Malaysian companies, while many expatriates have joined Malaysia’s population.

“It’s about partnership, not about what we could sell to Malaysia,” Treadell said. “It’s about mutuality…[it’s about] how Malaysia is not just a destination market for the UK, but a hub to go beyond Malaysia into the 10 other ASEAN markets.”

Irwan and Treadell at the soft launch.

Treadell also noted the move would give British companies the opportunity to launch into Asean’s 650 million-strong region, where growth is expected to drive the majority of the global economy within the next five years.

“It’s set a really solid foundation for the kind of relationship we want, as both our countries look to embark on this next century, the digital economy, the transformation of our economies, the fourth industrial revolution,” said Treadell.

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Addressing the Brexit elephant in the room, Treadell waved off concerns the Britain’s move to leave the European Union would seriously damage the country’s plans to continue growing and innovating.

She said:

“Our partnership with you is about our and your interests; it’s about life beyond the EU.”

According to Treadell, 90 percent of global growth will come from economies beyond the bloc.

She pointed to the strength of the country’s soft power, especially in the arts and British products, as well as its political standing as a G7 country and UN Security Council member. Furthermore, the UK still supplies 12 percent of the Climate Change Fund, while still being one of the biggest sources of funding for international aid and development.

“This is not a country in retreat, not one closing its doors, this is not a country turning its back on the world,” Treadell said.

When asked about the encroaching power of China into Southeast Asia, particularly the aggressive moves by technology giants like Alibaba and Tencent who have been snapping up as much of the industry across the region, Treadell largely dismissed any notion the UK might have a fight on their hands to retain influence in the region.

“Our model is different; China will do what China will do, Malaysia will do what it wants with China,” she said to Tech Wire Asia.

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“This is about what Britain and Malaysia can do together. I think we’re no less aggressive. We may not have a single huge giant like Alibaba, but we have lots of great companies that are coming here and are making Malaysia their Asia-Pacific platform.”

“We are no less dynamic … our model is different. We have a different vision, but no less eager and ambitious as Britain looks out to the world to project new global partnerships.”