PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - International chambers of commerce have urged the government to reconsider the blanket entry ban on citizens of countries with more than 150,000 Covid-19 cases.
The European Union-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurocham) said it hoped the Malaysian government could reconsider the latest policy as it may impact business operations.
"While it is understandable to take a cautious approach for the benefit of public health, we should also consider that these measures may undermine current efforts by the Malaysian government to advance the economic recovery, as well as adversely impacting future trade and investment projects.
"It would be our hope that the Malaysian government could reconsider the blanket ban and instead turn to a more targeted approach of managing border movements, prioritising business travel.
"Eurocham Malaysia looks forward to engaging with the Malaysian government, seeking an open dialogue during these challenging times," it said.
American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) also urged the government to reconsider the ban, saying that it would affect the operations of businesses in the country.
"The ban will affect, among others, expatriates with valid work permits in Malaysia, such as employment passes (EPs) and Professional Visitor Passes (PVPs)
"Within our membership, these categories would severely impact the immediate operations of some of the country's largest investors.
"This ban will result in the immediate loss of millions of dollars at both the business and trade levels. Additionally, with no details on how long this ban will be in place, it will have a long-term impact on Malaysia as a reliable place for doing business.
"The chamber understands the need to impose travel restrictions to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, but believes there needs to be a carefully planned approach, with advance and clear notice given to the public and business community," it said.
The ban, it added, will impact global decision-making personnel who are now located in the country and it will also affect the ability of companies who need the help of specialists to set up or certify equipment.
An official spokesman for the British High Commission said the entry ban will not affect the longstanding bilateral trade relations the United Kingdom shares with Malaysia.
"We understand and respect the decision by the Malaysian government to impose a travel ban on citizens from countries with over 150,000 Covid cases.
"There are approximately 9,000 British residents in Malaysia and the decision will affect a small number of those who are caught outside Malaysia and seeking to return, or who wish to leave Malaysia for a short period and return.
"When the number of active Covid-19 cases declines, we hope the Malaysian government will lift the travel ban for these groups," he said.
Senior Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced on Thursday (Sept 3) that the government will impose an entry ban on citizens of countries with more than 150,000 Covid-19 cases.
The new policy, which will start next Monday, will affect citizens of countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil and France, as well as three other countries announced previously - India, Indonesia and the Philippines.