UK voters have spoken. As democrats, we must respect the result. We wish our British friends well in the new future they have chosen.
The step the UK has taken is historic and unprecedented. The future cannot be predicted, although a period of volatility in financial markets is to be expected as the ramifications of the result are understood and as the UK’s exit is negotiated. We will monitor developments closely and remain vigilant to any emerging economic risks.
However, we do not expect a major impact on the Malaysian economy. With our sound fundamentals, diversified economic structure and ample liquidity in our financial markets, Malaysia is well positioned to face any volatility. I am confident that we will be able to weather this period of uncertainty. The Government will also continue to strengthen the economy and further our fiscal reforms.
We regard the UK as an important partner in all areas, including trade, investment, defence, education and tourism. For example, trade between us has been growing, with British companies such as Rolls Royce, Dyson and BaE Systems increasing their footprint in Malaysia, and Malaysian companies driving the redevelopment of one of London’s greatest landmarks, Battersea Power Station.
But our economic exposure to the UK is limited, as it is not among Malaysia’s top 10 trading partners and only accounts for about one per cent of our total trade. We should increase this, and there may be an opportunity to do so now if the UK reaches out to strategically important nations beyond the EU.
Whatever comes to pass, I am confident that the Malaysia-UK relationship will be maintained and strengthened. We are both outward-facing nations, with a diversity of faiths and cultures and strong traditions of moderation and cooperation.
Bound by deep ties of shared history, friendship and trade, our peoples fought alongside each other in the Second World War and during the insurgency in what was then Malaya. We are firm allies in the fight against violent extremism, a scourge which affects us all. We must remain united in that long term effort.
On a personal note, I have had an excellent working relationship with David Cameron. I am sad to see him depart as Prime Minister, although I respect his principled reasons for resigning. I look forward to working with his successor.
There will be testing times ahead for the UK. But the British people should know that one old friend will always be with them, as they open a new chapter in their long history.