IN a stirring speech to the nation, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. stamped his brand of leadership on the presidency. In his first act as the 46th president of the United States, it signalled several shifts. Perhaps the weather was foreboding with snow falling before the ceremony that was later bathed in brilliant sunshine. A hopeful metaphor of what promises to be a presidency at the confluence of multiple crises both domestic and abroad.The pageantry of procession that was inauguration day will be fast replaced by the stark reality of the challenges faced by the nation. If only to understand Malaysia’s fifth largest investor and third largest trading partner better, Malaysian companies need to understand the priorities of the current US president.While it’s unlikely that there will be immediate benefits to Malaysian business from the change in the White House, over the course of the next four years the strategic policy shifts and promises to stay the course on what has fast become the established US position should yield considerable opportunities.One such door that will be opening was unlocked when Biden signed the executive order returning the US to the Paris Climate Agreement. This return to the legally binding international treaty on climate change designed to reduce greenhouse cases will have a direct impact on US-based companies. It is a positive move for the environment and at the same time a chance to participate in what will be a monumental change from now until 2030.This rapid shift to a greener industrial model will set two trends in motion. Firstly, the US will generate demand for green technology, including the production of physical technologies that will be consumed in the US. This will mean the creation of multiple global value chains, with the US as the end consumer. With some countries off the radar as a cost-effective manufacturing base, it will allow Malaysia the opportunity to fill the gap. Not to mention that Malaysian-based innovative technology should find its way to the US. Secondly, it will mean the US itself will further strengthen its domestic green tech industry. History has shown us the US corporate sector will look globally for growth and market share. Once international travel is again possible in a meaningful business development way, it will see US companies look to Asean and indeed Malaysia for expansion. It is this second trend that Malaysia’s regionally focused players can look to partner.Regardless of the president in the White House, Malaysian companies looking to take their place on the global stage must work towards achieving sustainable global conduct. Those in the global market need to play by the global rules, especially companies in critical supply chains, as competitors and interest groups are more than happy to highlight short comings. Covid-19 and the process of change will mean it will take time for the wheels to turn. For those with the aspiration this is the time to gear up for the opportunity, to put in place the governance and standards that will allow corporations to step through the door that is now opening.Welcome to the White House President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris. There is much to achieve and a constant need to move forward. Looking at the future and to borrow from Biden when he asked in his inaugural speech “Will we meet our obligations and pass along a new and better world for our children? I believe we must and I believe we will.” – January 23, 2021.* Nordin Abdullah is founding chairman of the Malaysia Global Business Forum. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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