Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has recently gone on a 4-day working visit to the United States (US) to further strengthen the Malaysia-US ties.
During the visit, Ismail Sabri invited American businesses to take a closer look at the country as a preferred investment destination in various areas, including the automotive sector.
He also welcomed corporations, especially the Fortune 500 companies, to invest or increase their investment in Malaysia, especially in the areas of the digital economy and green technology, as well as the electric vehicle sector.
Among those invited include American electric carmaker Tesla, as Ismail tells the Malaysian journalists following a meeting with Ted Osius, president and CEO of the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC) in Washington.
“I’ve suggested to Tesla to invest in Malaysia in producing electric cars,” he said.
In addition, Ismail said he has asked the US-ABC, which represents 170 major American businesses in Southeast Asia, to play a bigger role in attracting investments to ASEAN, especially Malaysia. He added that the council regarded Malaysia as an important trading partner of the United States.
However, Malaysia’s invitation to Tesla is well behind the actual discussions accomplished by Indonesia, which has long been in talks with Tesla on the probability of setting up a factory in the republic to make batteries for its EVs.
The discussions that were conducted in March this year appeared to have failed because Tesla was only interested in building batteries for energy storage systems (i.e. its Powerwall) instead of that for its cars.
However, Indonesia had restarted talks with Tesla boss Elon Musk in April, inviting them to join the country’s burgeoning nickel and EV industry.
The country has long been pushing for investments in EV and battery manufacturing, touting its reserves of nickel and cobalt – used in the production of lithium-ion batteries – as well as bauxite, which can be turned into aluminium.
Indonesia also has the world’s largest nickel reserves and it wants to build a full supply chain for extracting battery chemicals from the metal rather than simply exporting it.