“AT Kearney ranked Malaysia last year the third best country in the world for outsourcing, after India and China – and that’s a close three,” she told delegates. “So when you think outsourcing, don’t just think India and China; also think Malaysia.”

Many investors are thinking about Malaysia, and this is partly a consequence of the minister’s tireless travel around the world signing trade deals, promoting inward investment and making the business case for setting up operations in Malaysia.

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Mrs Rafidah is candid when describing the perception problems her country faces in dealing with international investors. “I am a fundamentalist Muslim,” she announced when addressing the question of whether Malaysia is a safe location. “The real tenants of fundamental Islam are tolerance, respect for other religions, non-violence and moderation. By this definition, the majority of Malaysians are fundamentalist Muslims,” she said.

She is equally straightforward about the rigours of crafting trade agreements: “World Trade Organization negotiations are a tortuous process – I am ageing in the process.”

She shows no signs of giving up, though. The day after her Birmingham appearance, she was travelling to the US to make a joint announcement about a prospective free trade agreement between Malaysia and the US.