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Malaysia – Labour-intensive industries to be phased out

06 March 2013

Malaysia wants to cut back on its reliance of foreign workers by phasing out labour-intensive industries. The country’s trade and industry minister said that the number of overseas workers had to be manageable.

The minister, Mustapa Mohamed, said: “We are moving up the value chain. Malaysia is not a place for purely labour-intensive industries.” Although the country will still rely on non-domestic workers, the government plans to become “more selective” in the future.

There are about 3 million foreign workers in Malaysia which has a population of around 28.85 million. The minister said that half of these workers were in the country illegally. There have also been calls to reduce the number of migrant workers to 1 million.

Neighbouring state Singapore last month announced similar plans with the government aiming to cut the number of low-skilled foreign workers that companies can employ. The move aims to reduce the city-state's dependence on overseas labour and will introduce tighter controls on foreign worker policies. 

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