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Germany’s New Strategy in Malaysia and Indo-Pacific – Analysis

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Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s visit to Malaysia symbolises a new criticality of bilateral ties that goes beyond both countries’ interests. 1997 was the last German president’s visit.

The new green and digital economic transformation, supply chain resilience, food security, high-impact technological development, semiconductor sustainability and security, and people-to-people linkages will remain one of the most vital fronts for both nations’ long-term interests.

Malaysia trades more with Germany in the EU (EU). From RM53.99 billion in 2021, Malaysia’s commerce with Germany rose to RM59.87 billion last year.

These normative and expanded spectrum of vital sectors will be high on the agenda, but the overriding factor and priority will be sustaining both nations’ long-term support and buy-in to ensure geostrategic and geopolitical benefits that will top both agendas.

Berlin’s Indo Pacific footprint is increasingly dependent on Kuala Lumpur, one of its most important geopolitical partners. His Excellency Steinmeier has also underlined the expected topics of relevance and interest during the visit, including enhancing the semiconductor sector, which Germany has an embedded and advancing presence in Malaysia, and fostering local talent and empowering the youth.

Malaysia should build on this to increase confidence, support, and readiness in talent pool, tax credits, facility and capital support, and other supportive mechanisms to attract and retain the high-value and long-term presence of these critical investments that will ensure our best interests and geostrategic survival.

The green and digital economy, led by a revamp and reimagination of our educational approach and scientific advancement, must be wisely galvanised by tapping into Germany’s leading scholarly credentials in these areas, including in jointly tackling existential threats like climate change and food and resource sustainability. People-to-people exchanges and scholarly collaborations between the two countries must be strengthened.

Malaysia-Germany political relations are mostly based on their extensive economic ties. Malaysia is a key ASEAN member, a stable Southeast Asian ally, and a moderate Islamic nation in Germany’s eyes.

Almost 700 German companies are headquartered in Malaysia, many of which operate production plants and sell their goods globally, demonstrating Malaysia’s growing relevance to Germany and Europe.

German firms are also using Malaysia as a regional centre for Southeast Asia and beyond.

Infineon’s RM8 billion expansion project in Kulim, Kedah shows investment trust in the country and a rising view of Malaysia as a geostrategic return for the West in this high-impact field of technological spillover effects. Berlin and Europe, together with the West, will profit from a secure, progressive, and sustainable industry and support system in this spectrum of future-driven sectors.

Malaysia’s strength and potential in the semiconductor industry in ensuring the sustainable supply chain and returns for the West must be seized upon to also include the greater opening to deepen our security and defence ties with Berlin, in which more security cooperation mechanisms, including expertise exchanges and asset transfer, should be prioritised.

This will be vital for Berlin’s new Indo Pacific agenda, and Malaysia will benefit from a stronger German security and hard power presence in the region to improve our collective deterrence capacity against both classic and nontraditional threats.

Germany’s Eurofighter planes’ debut marathon flight to Asia last year and Bayern frigate’s seven-month Indo Pacific deployment indicate a four-pronged Indo Pacific strategy. Secondly, it wants to show Beijing that it’s ready for less strategic dependence and a stronger defence of its regional economic and geostrategic interests.

Second, to warn Russia and prospective rivals that Berlin aims to shift from its traditional defensive orientation to a more aggressive, nimble, and forceful one. Berlin’s fast deployment of its maiden Eurofighter fighters around the continent last year showed its agility to expand its airpower to a distant possible war location, ready for surgical intervention to safeguard German interests overseas despite the lack of an aircraft carrier.

Finally, Berlin would like to recover leadership in the West in exchange for more trust and reciprocal assistance for its defensive needs outside NATO and in predicting Indo Pacific threats. Fourth, the shift in security calculations should be communicated to the domestic audience to increase popular support for the new security architecture and encourage national unity and political successes.

All of these demonstrate the aim and pursuit of long-term rewards on investments in Germany’s geopolitical resilience, assuring a vibrant, protected, and resilient effect from important fields that will ensure Germany’s long-term survival. Energy security is especially important in light of the Ukraine war and the necessity to break from Russia’s energy hegemony.

This domain is reflected in Berlin’s intent to deepen energy security settings with new potential venture in Malaysia’s oil and gas giant, Petronas, to supply LNG to Germany and the EU, as well as exploring cooperation in green mobility and new energy platforms that will see knowledge transfer and capacity building, which will be crucial for both countries, especially Germany, in its quest for greater energy security.

Recognizing the value of mutual collaboration and the returns to both nations’ long-term geopolitical and security considerations, existing difficulties like the palm oil crisis must be handled with foresight, as Malaysia must not compromise its future interests and security spectrum for short-term gains. Berlin is aware of this, and it would be good to alter its strategy and encourage Brussels to do the same to recognise our vital position in the EU’s Indo Pacific agenda. Berlin’s rising hard and soft power projections and executions in Europe and the Indo Pacific are also relied on by Malaysia.

Malaysia will need Germany’s EU leadership to continue to play an expansive, integrated, and normative role in shaping regional and global idealistic pursuit of preventive diplomacy and conflict prevention mechanisms, as well as bridging civilisational divides and helping to preserve the rules-based order of the international system both in jointly addressing common threats to civilisations and in protecting common values.

This will also affect EU-Malaysia and EU-ASEAN relations in a variety of venues and processes, particularly in socio-economic and political collaboration that goes beyond conventional boundaries. Berlin will also use our regional leadership credentials in ASEAN and related venues to advocate for greater regional buy-in in furthering economic, technology, supply chain, and military advances and clout that will benefit the region and Europe. Malaysia’s perspective and standing as a moderate and progressive Islamic nation, together with our exceptional counterterrorism and deradicalization capabilities, can help Germany address its non-traditional difficulties.

Malaysia must be wise and strategic to seize the opportunity to begin its fundamental shift in core economic transition by capitalising on its geopolitical advantage and strength in these fields to deepen its economic and investment ties with these Western firms, which generate the needed positive ripple effects and economic multiplier returns in an expansive and progressive manner.

Technology transfer, adherence to the moral high ground of global principles, values, and norms of transparency, integrity, and respect for critical parameters such as environmental impact, labour standards, human rights, ethical governance, sustainability, and green practises, all provide a new form of significant shift and incentivisation of transformation for both the government and private sector to create a lasting economic culture and system that are principle

Info source – Eurasia Review

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