Malaysia now joins the top 20 "investor-friendly" nations and territories in drawing investments in the next five years, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) latest ranking.

The ranking has placed Malaysia in the 19th position out of 82 countries for the 2014-2018 period, ahead of advanced economies like the United Kingdom, France, the Republic of Korea and Japan.

The latest Business Environment Rankings (BER) released last month marks an improvement of five places for Malaysia from 24th for the 2009-2013 period.

The top 10 positions were Singapore, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Canada, Australia, Sweden, the United States, New Zealand, Finland, Denmark, Norway and Germany.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority chief executive officer Azman Mahmud said the ranking is a reflection of the continuous improvement in the delivery of public services and overall efficiency of the government machinery. It also showed that the government is serious in its initiatives to make Malaysia more competitive to become a developed country by 2020.

''But more work needs to be done to sustain the momentum,'' Azman said, adding that collective action by the public and private sector is important to sustain the competitiveness of the country.

For the first quarter of the year, Malaysia attracted 17.1 billion RM (5.3 billion USD) investments in the manufacturing sector alone, a 52.7 percent rise against the same period last year.

According to the EIU, market opportunities in Malaysia would improve, largely due to the government’s efforts to raise private sector investment levels.

The higher global ranking is an indication that the government’s reforms will overcome many of the structural and political impediments to its ambitious plans to transform the country into a high-income nation.

It is also upbeat on the growth momentum of the Malaysian economy, projecting a 5.1 percent expansion this year and 5.5 percent next year.-VNA