U.S. investment in Malaysia up sharply as trade row with China drags on

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia approved U.S. investment worth $5.62 billion in the first half of the year compared with $113 million the previous year, the government said on Wednesday, a possible sign of a diversion of U.S. business as a trade row with China drags on.

U.S. and Chinese companies alike are looking at moving some of their manufacturing out of China to escape tit-for-tat tariffs imposed on each other’s products.

Economists say Vietnam and Malaysia are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries, though countries such as India are also trying to attract companies such as Apple AAPL.O, Foxconn 2354.TW and Wistron Corp 3231.TW.

The Malaysian Investment Development Authority, which shared the data on foreign private investments with Reuters on Wednesday, declined to name any company but said global firms were increasingly attracted to Malaysia for its stable business and political climate.

In the first six months of the year, Malaysia approved U.S. investment proposals worth 11.69 billion ringgit in the manufacturing sector, compared with 307 million ringgit a year earlier, replacing China at the top of the investment list.

Malaysia already hosts manufacturing plants of U.S. companies such as Intel Corp INTC.O, Dell Technologies Inc DELL.N and On Semiconductor Corp ON.O.

Proposed U.S. investment in the service sector soared to 11.52 billion ringgit from just 42.3 million in the year-ago period, the data showed.

Total approved proposals from Chinese companies dipped to 5.1 billion ringgit this year from 5.69 billion a year earlier.