AMCHAM: Third Quarter Summary

As we get closer to the end of the year, we’d like to update all our members what AMCHAM has been doing and what we’ve achieved to date.

2016 ended with some very pressing issues, most critical of all being the Foreign Exchange Administration Rules and Withholding Tax (WHT) which would stay with us into the new year.

In January, these and other issues gave us a flying start to the new year with a well-attended dialogue with MITI Minister, Y.B. Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed where key issues impacting the members from Withholding Tax, GST, Foreign Exchange Administration Rules, IP Protection, and Market Access were presented and discussed.

By mid-February, some of these issues had started to be resolved but WHT was still paramount. Given the urgency and real-time fiscal impact of the matter, AMCHAM took members’ concerns to the Honorable Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib Bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Prime Minister of Malaysia. Prior to this meeting, a lot of work and time had been invested by AMCHAM and a host of members to meeting and expressing our deepest concerns with the relevant ministries and agencies and ensuring we represented our membership well on the three key areas: Foreign Exchange Administration Rules, Withholding Tax and GST. Subsequently, AMCHAM met with the Second Finance Minister, Governor of Bank Negara, the Minister of International Trade and Industry and the Prime Minister’s Office for more detailed discussions.

In April AMCHAM also submitted joint recommendations with FMM to MoF on the revisions to the GST all the while working to help our companies manage the impact of WHT on their operations.

Our AGM in May saw AMCHAM install a new President, Mr. Ramzi Toubassy, CEO of AmMetLife, who was elected along with new members to the Board.

In June, at the 2017 APCAC Doorknock in Washington DC, AMCHAM, along with 15 other members of APCAC (Asia Pacific Council of American Chambers) was briefed on the new Administration and had the opportunity to take to US Congressional Representatives and Senators priority focus areas impacting US companies operating abroad: trade, taxes, and travel. APCAC encouraged these groups to:

  1. Engage in Bilateral and Regional/ Multi-Party Agreements on Trade
  2. Adopt a Territorial (Residence-Based) Tax System
  3. Review and Reform the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)
  4. Pass APEC Business Travel Card Legislation

In July, AMCHAM was honored to be given the opportunity to host the Prime Minister and his wife YABhg. Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor to celebrate 60 Years of U.S. – Malaysia Working Together. This memorable event, led by Acting President, Datuk Tim Garland, welcomed 380 participants including over 20 members of the press. Companies present that night totaled approximately US$118B with U.S. FDI valued at approximately US$14B USD in revenue, show casing their support for the strong relationship between the two countries. Ministers from MITI and Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development were also present alongside with other senior representatives from MITI, Ministry of Health Malaysia, Royal Malaysian Customs, Immigration Department of Malaysia, Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Ministry of Finance, Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), SME Corporation and Ministry of Higher Education with pride. Making the news that night was the announcement by the PM of upcoming guidelines for WHT.

Immediately following this event, AMCHAM and some members, were once again back with MITI, MIDA, other government departments, alongside other Chambers, JACTIM, EUMCCI & the British Chamber (BMCC) to exchange ideas on the much anticipated guidelines for Withholding Tax that was promised at our July 11 dinner. Ideas and frameworks were discussed presented and, in September, after nine months of work, various ministerial meetings, AMCHAM had a one-on-one meeting where the Second Minister presented a resolution that was to alleviate the WHT issue and restore Malaysia to a competitive place from which US businesses could run their global businesses. The ministerial relief is due to be published in early October.

This news comes as a big relief as many US Companies had been forced to move businesses around the region and even remove contracts from Malaysia so that they could remain competitive.

Digital Economy
While the digital economy and the regulations were not addressed in this relief, AMCHAM offered to pull together a working group which Datuk Seri Johari was welcoming of this input and promised to meet with our working group.

If you’d like to know more or to get more involved at AMCHAM, please contact us at [email protected] . You can support AMCHAM in various ways including lending us your expertise in various sectors and function areas as well as supporting with financial commitments – as a non-governmental and not-for-profit organization, we rely on our members for their input. Please contact Yvonne Miranda or Kavita Subramaniam to learn more.

As we move towards the fourth quarter of the year, we are still going strong with 2 signature events coming up and a couple of social events lined up as well. In case you missed our notices, here’s the list of upcoming events not to be missed.

  1. Penang Dialogue with Chief Minister of Penang and US Ambassador of Malaysia – October 5 (PENANG)
  2. Annual AMCHAM-TNB Working Group Meeting – October 5 (PENANG)
  3. MGCC-AMCHAM InterChamber Ladies Networking Event – November 1
  4. Thanksgiving Luncheon with U.S. Ambassador of Malaysia – November 16
  5. MDBC-AMCHAM Year End Networking Evening – December 6

Next year, AMCHAM will celebrate its 40th Anniversary and we will be hosting an amazing 2-day Asia Pacific business conference, the APCAC 2018 Business Summit on April 4 & 5, 2018. Mark your calendars.

We always like you to talk to us, so please help us understand how we can be more effective for your needs. You can email us at [email protected]