Malaysia to set up new tech trade hub in the UK to do more business post-Brexit
Malaysian officials are in the UK to sign trade deals with technology firms this week and are planning to set up a new trade office focusing on digital businesses, encouraged by Britain’s post-referendum drive to seek new markets outside the EU.
Dato’ Yasmin Mahmood, chief executive of the Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), a government agency, is on a tour of the UK that includes signing memoranda of understanding (MoU) with cyber security groups.
Some deals were already in the works before the Brexit vote, but Ms Mahmood said the mood has clearly changed among UK tech firms since June.
“We do find that since the Brexit vote there is a lot more hunger, more interest in the other potential markets,” she said.
“British firms have the potential to come into a leadership position in this geography [Malaysia and Southeast Asia]. We were already working towards this before the vote, but now there is more receptivity from people who have not thought about Malaysia in the past.
“There is more of a spirit of moving forwards and finding new paths. I can sense it.”
She is planning to set up a new office in London in early 2017 to capitalise on this sentiment.
The MoUs this week includes an agreement with PGI Cyber Academy in Bristol to provide training and consulting services in Malaysia, a deal with the University of Salford to work on technological research and development in the country, and an exchange partnership with the Future Cities Catapult in London.
Malaysia has already followed Britain’s steps in setting up its own technology centre, seeking to encourage financial technology firms with a “regulatory sandbox” – the same term used by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority – and even a site called FinTech at 38, which was closely inspired by the Level 39 technology accelerator in Canary Wharf in London.
Britain is the second biggest technology investor in Malaysia after the US, and the MDEC office in London will be its only overseas site except for Silicon Valley.
The trip is one of a series organised this year by the Department for International Trade, which is newly able to lead the UK’s trade policy after decades in which the EU was responsible for external trade deals.
Richard Graham MP, the UK’s trade envoy to Malaysia, said the visit and the MoU signings represent “the opening of a new chapter in the relationship between our two countries in the digital economy sector”.
“Malaysia is one of the key targets for the UK in the tech space. This visit demonstrates the real strength of our relationship here.”
This article first appeared on The UK Telegraph 6 December 2016.