Thursday, February 22, 2024



YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim – the Prime Minister of Malaysia – is a man on the move. Since taking office on 24 November last year, he has made nine overseas visits, meeting national and business leaders in countries such as Indonesia, Brunei, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Cambodia, and China. This works out to approximately 1.6 overseas visits for each month he has been in office. A hectic schedule no doubt, but one which he has undertaken to bring trade and investments into the country.

With increased trade and investments being a priority of this administration, it is perhaps fortuitous that the 16th iteration of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA) is taking place in the Prime Minister’s first year in office. Themed “The Nexus of Maritime and Aerospace Trade”, LIMA 2023 seeks to reinforce its position as the largest trade show of its kind in the Asia-Pacific, and Malaysia’s position as a key player in the aviation and marine industries.

As part of Malaysia’s drive to become an aviation and aerospace hub, several states have set up centres of aerospace
excellence. These include the KLIA Aeropolis in Selangor (top), the NS AeroValley in Negeri Sembilan (middle), and the
Aerotropolis in Kedah (bottom). This means that there is an aerospace centre of excellence in the northern (Kedah),
central (Selangor) and southern (Negeri Sembilan) areas of Malaysia.

While all previous iterations of LIMA have been important, this year’s event is made even more special given its timing. As the Prime Minister explained to International Business Review, “Since it was first held 1991, LIMA has been an important global event, which has helped enhance Malaysia’s position on the world map, especially among the aerospace and maritime industries. The 16th edition of LIMA, which is being held from 23 to 27 May this year, is even more noteworthy because this will be the largest international event held here since we reopened our borders on 1 April last year.”

Not only that, but LIMA 2023 will be the first one held since 2019, as the 2021 event was cancelled owing to the global health crisis. If absence makes the heart fonder, then this hiatus of four years would surely have driven anticipation and excitement for the event. And this spells out to even bigger and better deals.

“During the last LIMA in 2019, RM4 billion worth of deals were inked. And I am told that this year, we are confident of seeing RM6 billion worth of deals finalised during the five-day event,” YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar reveals.

There is much reason for such optimism. After all, this year’s LIMA will be the biggest one of its kind yet. Whereas in 2019, there were a total of 400 exhibitors – of which 280 were from the defence industry and 120 from the commercial sector – LIMA 2023 is welcoming 600 exhibitors – 360 from defence and 240 from commercial.

“I am looking forward to welcoming our guests from all over the world to LIMA 2023 and Malaysia,” YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar tells International Business Review. “And this includes VVIPs such as national leaders, ministers, senior civil servants and high ranking military officers.”

Indeed, over the years, LIMA has become known as the place where the who’s who of the global aerospace and maritime industries, as well as government and military officials, gathered. And this was further reinforced in 2019 when a commercial segment was added to LIMA.

Malaysia is poised to strengthen its contributions to the global aerospace and maritime sectors thanks to initiatives such as the Malaysian Aerospace Blueprint 2030 and the Malaysian Shipping Master Plan.

Presently, the shipbuilding and repair industry in Malaysia is valued at RM15 billion while the aerospace sector is expected to grow to more than RM55 billion by 2030.

Why Malaysia

Aside from bringing together the aerospace and maritime industries, the Prime Minister is hopeful that LIMA 2023 will be the avenue for Malaysian companies to showcase themselves to potential partners and clients from around the world. At the same time, he is looking forward to Malaysian organisations having the opportunity to share best practices and ideas with their international peers.

This, he believes, will go a long way in strengthening the nation’s aerospace and maritime industries, which have been

identified as two focus areas for growth. For instance, the Malaysia Shipping Master Plan aims to have Malaysian-made vessels account for 20 percent of global shipping and 30 percent of intra ASEAN trade, while the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030 envisions Malaysia as the ASEAN leader in aerospace parts and components sourcing, as well as in aerospace engineering and design services.

Expounding on this, YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar explains, “Malaysia has a strategic geographical position at the crossroads of mainland and maritime Southeast Asia. We are located within one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, which is the Straits of Malacca, and we are also one of the top 30 trading nations in the world. Already, our airports and ports infrastructure are world-class and we are confident that we can further add to the growth and development of the aerospace and maritime industries through these two plans.”

“That is why my government has been working to ensure that Malaysia remains an attractive and competitive destination for aerospace and maritime investments, through continuing with existing policies such as tax incentives for investments in the aerospace and shipbuilding and ship repair industries,” he continues.

Aside from approving the extension of existing policies, YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar’s government has also embarked on several new initiatives. During the Budget 2023 speech in Parliament in February this year, the Prime Minister announced the Federal Government’s support for the expansion of the Penang International Airport and Subang Airport. He also indicated

approval for the development of Sanglang Port in Perlis to handle petroleum and bulk cargo, as well as to develop a port at the Carey Islands and to continue to uplift the status of Port Klang as a regional shipping hub.

As a major maritime nation, Malaysia has the capacity to become a key player in the shipbuilding and repair segment, owing in part to the more than 30 shipyards in Peninsular Malaysia and more than 60 in East Malaysia


From the time of the first LIMA in 1991, the Ministry of Defence Malaysia (MINDEF) has been entrusted as the lead Ministry for the event. And although, since 2019, it has shared this responsibility with the Ministry of Transport (MOT), MINDEF still sees LIMA as “its baby”.

Which is why Malaysia’s Minister of Defence, YB Dato’ Seri Utama Mohamad Hasan, has been eagerly awaiting the start of LIMA. As this is his first term as the MINDEF Minister, one can draw an analogy of his anticipation for the event to that of a parent at the birth of their first child.

Speaking on the importance of LIMA to Malaysia’s and the global defence industry, the Minister says, “Over the years, LIMA has given us the opportunity to meet with potential suppliers and to see what they can offer to Malaysia. During the past 5 installations of LIMA, we have seen between RM3.8 billion to RM9.36 billion of MoU and contracts signed. In addition, LIMA has also given us the opportunity to meet with our peers from other nations and exchange mutually beneficial ideas on defence technology.”

YB Dato’ Seri Utama Mohamad Hasan also acknowledges the role LIMA 2023 is set to play in helping Malaysia achieve the goals of the National Defence and Security Industry Policy, which aims for Malaysia to produce its own military hardware, both for its own use and for export. “Our Malaysian defence companies at LIMA 2023 will be able to showcase themselves to potential partners and clients from all over the world,” he states confidently.

Aside from the trade aspect of the event, YB Dato’ Seri Utama Mohamad Hasan views the thought leaders that LIMA 2023 brings together as a key feature. For instance, he highlights the forums for Chiefs of Navies and Chiefs of Air Forces to exchange ideas on air and naval defences as well as discuss the latest pertinent products and technologies.

“We hold bilateral and multilateral engagements as a key part of our national defence policy. In addition, it is vital, not only for Malaysia but other nations, to have dialogues with one another so that we can learn from one another and discuss issues,” he explains.

Ultimately, as YB Dato’ Seri Utama Mohamad Hasan points out, “LIMA is widely regarded as the premier aerospace and maritime trade show and exhibition in the Asia-Pacific. In fact, we can safely call it the leading event of its kind in the world because it is the only one that brings together the defence and commercial elements of both the aerospace and maritime industries.”


In 2019, YB Tuan Anthony Loke made history when he became the first Minister of Transport for Malaysia to become the co-lead Minister for LIMA, following the decision to include the commercial segment into the biennial event. In 2019, 160 commercial exhibitors out of 400 took part in LIMA, and this year, at LIMA 2023, this number is increasing to 240 out of 600 exhibitors.

The Minister anticipates that LIMA 2023 will play a crucial role in helping Malaysia realise its aerospace and maritime goals. Speaking on the Malaysia Shipping Master Plan, YB Tuan Anthony Loke says, “We aim to have ships built in Malaysia to contribute to 90 percent of bulk carrier tonnage, 62 percent of container ship tonnage, 34 percent of general cargo ship tonnage, and 31 percent of oil tanker tonnage. And also to account for 20 percent of global shipping and 30 percent of intra-ASEAN trade.”

As for the aerospace sector, he highlights how the Malaysian Aerospace Blueprint 2030 seeks to have 70 percent local content in aerospace manufacturing and at least 3.5 percent market share in aerospace engineering and design services, as well as for the national aerospace industry to generate annual revenue of RM55.2 billion by 2030.

YB Tuan Anthony Loke also notes that this year’s LIMA includes, for the first time ever, space technology and drone segments, which is a reflection of their importance in the aerospace sector. “The global commercial drone market was estimated at US$9.43 billion in 2021, and is expected to grow at a cumulative annual growth rate of 29.8 percent to reach a value of US$54.17 billion by 2028. In Malaysia alone, the drone industry is expected to contribute RM50.71 billion to national GDP by 2030,” the Minister reveals.

For YB Tuan Anthony Loke, LIMA 2023 is the ideal event for anyone and everyone connected to the maritime and aerospace industries owing to the wealth of benefits they can receive from it.

“Not only will they be able to see the latest technologies and innovations in maritime and aerospace, they will also have the opportunity to expand their networks and business growth,” he says. He also reveals that, “Malaysian government agencies MIDA and MATRADE will be there to promote strategic and quality investments to help regional and global integration of the local supply chain where many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) may find opportunities.”

Industry regulators will also find LIMA 2023 useful as the Minister explains that, “They can engage with industry players during the event, on the need to balance the challenges of technological innovation with the need to maintain safety.”

Ultimately, as YB Tuan Anthony Loke puts it, “LIMA will be a platform to showcase the latest technologies, advancements and innovations in transport, while giving an avenue for thought and industry leaders to discuss and address challenges and gaps.”

Upskilling Talent in Aerospace and Maritime

For the Prime Minister, the growth of the aerospace and maritime industries in Malaysia will also contribute to the realisation of his Malaysia MADANI vision, which is focused on ensuring equitable growth to benefit all Malaysians, driven by six core values which are sustainability, prosperity, innovation, respect, trust and compassion.

As he tells International Business Review, “The aerospace and maritime sectors can help boost national economic value by giving us a larger share of the the almost US$300 billion global aerospace market and the nearly US$170 billion marine vessel market. At the same time, it will also enable us to develop the right human capital, and in doing so, ensure that Malaysians are able to secure good, high-paying jobs in the industries which will help them uplift their socio-economic status.”

Highlighting the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030 in particular, the Prime Minister reveals, “One of the goals of the Blueprint is to create 32,000 high-valued jobs in the aerospace industry. To develop that talent, the National Aerospace Industry Corporation

NAICO), which is an agency under the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, has been appointed as the National Aerospace Centre of Excellence and is working with various training organisations to develop human capital in the aerospace sector.”

These include local public and private institutions of higher learning, as well as training organisations approved by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) and skills training institutions. In addition, NAICO is currently working to develop the Malaysia Aerospace Centre or MyAero Centre, which will focus on talent development and research & technology in Industry 4.0 areas for the aerospace industry such as aerospace robotics and automation, advanced production, materials and manufacturing, aerospace digital technologies and mixed reality.

Similarly, in the maritime industry, the Malaysia Shipping Master Plan has identified the upskilling and reskilling of the workforce

and uptake of advanced technologies, particularly the development of a comprehensive maritime education and training blueprint, as key focus areas.

“Since the beginning, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) has long invested in the development of local talent by providing training and education opportunities for personnel in the aeronautical industry. Through collaborations with local companies, the RMAF has provided valuable business and job opportunities, enabling them to develop their skills and expertise in aircraft inspection, repair, overhaul, and modification. This has helped to create a world-class MRO ecosystem in Malaysia that attracts global players in the industry.”

General Tan Sri Mohd Asghar Khan Goriman Khan,
Chief of Air Force, RMAF
“The Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) aims, first and foremost, to highlight Malaysia’s inherent characteristic as a maritime nation, where maritime-related activities are major contributors to the country’s economy and security. As a maritime nation, a significant proportion of our economy is dependent on the sea, such as oil and natural gas as well as other economic activities. In this regard, the RMN has, since its establishment, played its role as the guarantor of security and stability in Malaysia’s maritime zone.”

– Admiral Datuk Abdul Rahman Ayob,
Chief of Navy, RMN
“During my visit to the Indonesia earlier this year, I was pleased to witness a Memorandum of Understanding between Malaysia’s ASIC Offshore and Marine Sdn Bhd with Indonesia’s largest state-owned shipyard PT Dok dan Perkapalan Kodja Bahari to enter into a strategic partnership. This covers the oil and gas and marine industries, particularly design and engineering, shipbuilding, repair and maintenance as well as ship management.”

– YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim,
Prime Minister of Malaysia

Getting the World to Know Malaysia

Ultimately, as YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar states, “MADANI aims to increase productivity in strategic sectors to increase inflow of investments. And the aerospace and maritime industries are two of these strategic sectors.”

As mentioned, bringing more investments into Malaysia is a key target YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar’s administration, and he is pleased that his overseas visits have managed to bear fruit. Top of his achievements would be the RM170 billion worth of investment commitments he managed to secure during his visit to China in late March/early April, which is the most ever secured by any Malaysian Prime Minister on a trip to China.

And YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar is hopeful that visitors to LIMA 2023 will be able to see that Malaysia is an ideal destination for investments and, of course, a hub for

the aerospace and maritime industries. Which is why, aside from the usual exhibition and events, he is pleased to learn that this year’s LIMA will also have the IBR Global Maritime and Aerospace Awards on the sidelines.

Conceptualised by The IBR Asia Group – the official PR partner for LIMA 2023 – these Awards recognises individuals and organisations that have made an impact in those industries. As the Prime Minister says, “The IBR Global Maritime and Aerospace Awards is being held in conjunction with LIMA 2023 and I believe that the event will enhance the value and attractiveness of LIMA and Malaysia as a whole.”

YAB Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim looks forward to welcoming visitors from all over the world to Malaysia for LIMA 2023. “It has been four long years since we have had such a huge gathering of a global who’s who in Malaysia, and I hope they will see that Malaysia is a dynamic nation that is open for business. As the famous Malaysian singer Sudirman once sang, ‘To know Malaysia is to love Malaysia’, and LIMA 2023 is their opportunity to know Malaysia,” the Prime Minister concludes with a smile.

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