Bilateral trade with OIC countries up 0.2 pct

Posted on : 27-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Bilateral trade between Malaysia and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries inched up 0.2 per cent to RM145.18 billion in 2016 from RM144.87 billion the previous year.

Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (Miti) Datuk Ahmad Maslan said exports to the OIC improved 5.1 per cent year-on-year to RM82.07 billion, while imports amounted to RM63.11 billion.

Ahmad said this during an oral question and answer session in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

“The trade balance also registered a good performance in rising 67 per cent to RM18.96 billion in 2016 compared to RM11.37 billion the previous year,” he added.

Exports included palm oil and related products, chemical and chemical products, machinery equipment, as well as electric and electronics material.

He said among the OIC countries, nearly 70 per cent of Malaysia’s exports was to Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Bangladesh and Pakistan with a lot of effort going into establishing good trade relations.

Malaysia signed free trade agreements with Pakistan in 2007 and Turkey in 2014.

Ahmad said currently, the OIC was Malaysia’s fifth largest trading partner,  accounting for total trade of RM1.48 trillion in 2016.

Ahmad said the government would continue to establish good trade relations with the OIC.

Founded in 1969, the OIC has 57 members with a collective population of more than 1.6 billion.


Palm oil export growth, higher CPO prices, rising global demand bode well for Boustead Plantations

Posted on : 27-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR— The growth in palm oil exports, coupled with higher crude palm oil (CPO) prices and increasing global demand for the edible oils, would bode well for Boustead Plantations Bhd.

Malaysia’s palm oil exports are set to grow by between five and eight per cent this year, with CPO supported by the stronger US dollar.

Its Chairman, Tan Sri Datuk Mohd Ghazali Che Mat, said to enhance profitability, the group was looking into fast-tracking the replanting of old palm trees on its estates with improved planting materials.

“This will ultimately serve to increase yields and profitability in the long run.

“We are confident that abundant opportunities remain for the group to tap into and are focused on improving our bottom line through effective management of our plantations,” Mohd Ghazali said in its annual report 2016.

However, he said, while CPO prices were expected to remain high for the first quarter of the year, this would likely be moderated by a rebound in palm oil output in the latter half of 2017 as the effect of El Nino waned.

CPO prices are expected to remain supportive for the first half of the year as the sector enters into a low production cycle in addition to the reduced palm oil stocks.

This, coupled with favourable crude mineral oil prices and the weak ringgit, will likely see CPO trading within the price band of RM2,700 to RM3,000.

Mohd Ghazali said that in addition, the production of soyabean was projected to remain high which would further impact CPO prices.

Furthermore, he said, global policy changes might have a bearing, such as the abrupt halt to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement curbing prospects for the sector.

He said the government’s intention to impose a foregn labour levy on employers with the introduction of the Employer Commitment policy could also have an impact on the plantation sector.

“We are certainly supportive of the government and understand the need for this policy. However, this should be carefully planned in consultation with industry participants,” he said.


Malaysia-EU FTA set to increase total trade by 20-30%

Posted on : 23-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

PETALING JAYA: The proposed Malaysia-European Union (EU) Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) is expected to boost total trade by 20% to 30% from the current 10%, said EU ambassador and head of delegation to Malaysia Maria Castillo Fernandez.

She said this was based on the EU’s FTA with South Korea for the past five years, which rose 35%.

“We (EU) have similar volume in terms of trade with Malaysia, so, certainly it will increase to that level.

“This will also create a win-win situation for both sides as we favour an open, free and sustainable trade,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the two-day Asean Regional Seminar on Transit and Transhipment here yesterday.

Asked when the FTA can be concluded, Castillo said it would be before year-end based on a constructive meeting between European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrm and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed in Manila on March 10.

Meanwhile, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong said Malmstrm and Mustapa touched on possible areas of cooperation, particularly on small and medium enterprise development, women and youth entrepreneurship, and sectoral legislative enactments involving vegetable, oils and fats.


Malaysia major beneficiary of openness, globalisation

Posted on : 23-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR― Malaysia has been a major beneficiary of openness and globalisation, and as a result its trade-to-gross domestic product ratio increased to 160 per cent, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

He said Malaysia’s trade openness enabled it to draw foreign direct investment, including from Saudi Arabia and China.

“This is an endorsement of our open policy and in terms of economic ties,” he told reporters at the Global Transformation Forum 2017 here today.

Mustapa was one of the panellists at a forum entitled “Malaysia’s Transformation: Delivering on Government Promises”.

He said with the open economy system, many countries became part of the world value chain, from small and medium enterprises to public-listed companies and even multinationals.

This has translated into job creation, for instance at least one million in the manufacturing sector alone, he added.

“In terms of trade agreements, we have signed 13 altogether, another indicator of trade openness and we are still negotiating with a few other countries,” he said.

Mustapa said Malaysia supported multilateralism, which brought together over 160 countries under the auspices of the World Trade Organisation.

“Our companies are doing business in Asia, Europe, Middle East and many parts of the world in various sectors, including construction, oil and gas, and banking,” he added.


BNM Governor: Malaysian economy to expand 4.3-4.8% this year

Posted on : 23-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s economy is projected to expand between 4.3% and 4.8% this year driven by domestic demand and support from the external sector, says Bank Negara Malaysia Governor Datuk Muhammad Ibrahim.

He said domestic demand would remain a key driver with support from improvement in net exports while private consumption would be supported by continued employment and income growth.

“Households have the capacity and resilience to support expenditure, as well as, have ample liquid financial assets to cover debt,” he told a briefing on the BNM Annual Report 2016, as well as, the Financial Stability and Payments Report here today.

Muhammad said private investment would be supported by the implementation of projects in the services and manufacturing sectors.

“Services and manufacturing sectors account for 75% of private investment activity while key quality projects would increase efficiency, productive capacity and employment,” he said.


AmBank eyes minimum 15 pct growth in loans to SMEs this year

Posted on : 23-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: AmBank (M) Bhd aims to see a minimum of 15% growth in loans to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) for this year, said its group chief executive officer Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir.

He said the target would be driven by retail, corporate and SME asset financing as well as an increase in infrastructure loan demand amid progressive Malaysian economic background.

“Overall, last year’s growth was slow. It was not in double figures; after some (corporate) restructuring in October 2016, there was a monthly growth of 1%-2%,” he said.

Sulaiman said this to reporters after the signing of SME portfolio guarantee (SPG) agreement for an additional financing of RM200mil with Credit Guarantee Corp (M) Bhd (CGC) in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday.
He said the group’s overall loan growth target for 2017 was about 6%-7%, backed by the country’s positive gross domestic product figures.

The financing for eligible SMEs, via AmBanks SME Banking, is part of Tranche 2, an extended scheme from RM150mil in Tranche 1, launched in September 2016, which was fully-subscribed within five months.

Sulaiman said Tranche 2, which has been available since Feb 22, 2017, has disbursed 8% of the amount thus far.

He said it was expected to be also fully subscribed within five months, considering the SPG was much sought-after by SMEs.

Under this scheme, SMEs can apply for financing facilities of up to RM1mil from AmBank SME with repayment tenure of up to seven years.

CGC will guarantee 70% of the principal financing amount.

“Overall, AmBank SME Business and CGC have allocated a total of RM350mil to-date to support the SME businesses in providing working capital financing to qualified borrowers who lack collateral,” said Sulaiman.

CGC president/chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Zamree Mohd Ishak said: “This is our fourth portfolio guarantee (PG) strategic partnership with AmBank and to-date, we have availed RM950mil worth of financing via our PG scheme and we look forward to many opportunities to further increase access to SME financing in Malaysia.”

Mohd Zamree said such initiatives would hasten the achievement of CGC’s aspiration to be a household name for SMEs by 2020.


Maybank partners Alipay to provide contactless payments convenience

Posted on : 23-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

MAYBANK has entered into a strategic partnership with Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Financial) of China to provide Alipay users travelling in Malaysia with contactless payment service which can be used in various outlets ranging from high-end department stores, duty free outlets to hotels popular with Chinese visitors.

This tie-up will provide a payment service that is swift, seamless and secure.

Operated by Ant Financial, Alipay is a mobile payment platform and lifestyle app with 450 million users in China and beyond.

The strategic partnership was formalised at an event witnessed by the Prime Minster of Malaysia, Najib Razak and Digital Economic Advisor to the Malaysian Government Jack Ma.

With them were Ant Financial Services Group chairman Lucy Peng and Maybank group technology officer Mohd Suhail Amar Suresh.

Representing Maybank for the MOU was group strategy officer Michael Foong while Alipay was represented by Ant Financial senior vice president Douglas Feagin.

Foong said that Maybank is honoured to partner with Ant Financial and facilitate contactless payments by Alipay customers from China who make purchases at selected merchants in Malaysia.

“As a leader in card payments, Maybank will now offer Alipay customers the added convenience and security of our comprehensive cashless payment channels, thereby expanding the geographical reach of their digital wallets and enhancing their travel experience in this country,” he adds.

“Given Maybank’s leading position in the Malaysian market, we believe we can provide Alipay customers even greater payment access throughout Malaysia and our customers will have greater peace of mind when transacting on Maybank’s card payment platforms which are quick and secure”, says Feagin.

The new service, available from May 2017 onwards will see Alipay accepted at Maybank card merchants such as Parkson, Royal Selangor, Duty Free Zone, Eraman and Genting.

Foong added that more merchants are currently being processed for enrolment into this program to ensure that Alipay users can have greater payment convenience when in Malaysia.

Maybank is the leader in merchant sales volume in Malaysia with 37% market share and continues to grow this business aggressively.

Maybank offers the complete suite of all major card payment brands viz. Visa, MasterCard, American Express, UnionPay, JCB and MyDebit.


ACCCIM (Associated Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry) upbeat about 2017 economic outlook

Posted on : 23-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR— The Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) is upbeat about the country’s economic prospects for 2017, supported by increases in sales and production compared with last year’s figures.

“Exports are starting to pick up marginally since last year and ACCCIM members believe there will be investments in the first half of 2017,” said

Peck Boon Soon, member of Economic Survey Unit of Commerce Committee.

He said this at a media briefing on ACCCIM’s survey on the economic situation of Malaysia for the second half of 2016.

Peck said according to the survey results, 72 per cent of the respondents said that their firms’ sales were either ‘good’ or ‘satisfactory’, meaning that the businesses were able to sustain through the trough.

On the manufacturing sector, 75 per cent of the respondents said their performances were somewhat ‘improved’ or ‘sustained’, he said, adding that seven per cent in the wholesale and retail sectors reported ‘improvements’.

“The marginal improvement in sales performance may be attributed to the slight expansion in the Malaysian economy, where it has shown continued growth over the past quarters of 2016.

“Malaysia’s economic performance continues to be largely supported by private sector demand, which too, has shown continued positive growth to record 6.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016,” Peck said.

ACCCIM President, Datuk Ter Leong Yap, said he was optimistic about the economic outlook for the year despite the cautious sentiment among stakeholders in the business community.

He said 35.3 per cent of the respondents said they were optimistic or somewhat optimistic.

In tandem with improvement in sales, the survey showed that 66 per cent of the respondents indicated their production had improved or held stable.

The respondents who forecast reduced production volumes in the next six months remained at 33 per cent compared with 40 per cent in the previous corresponding year.

According to the survey, there was greater expectation and confidence in the Malaysian economy by 2019, with the economic situation slowly nursing its way through 2017 and 2018.

The survey aims to gauge the economic situation faced by Chinese business community in the period concerned.

It covers four major areas—Malaysian economic situation in Second Half of 2016; factors affecting business performance; economic outlook and current issues; and, challenges in relation to trade, investment and industrial development in Malaysia.


Envoy: M’sia businesses to benefit from EU-FTA

Posted on : 23-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian businesses will benefit from the Malaysia-European Union (EU) Free Trade Agreement (FTA) which is expected to be finalised by year-end, says Spain’s Ambassador to Malaysia, Carlos Dominguez.

Currently, only a handful of Malaysian firms have businesses in Spain, he said.

“The companies are involved in sectors such as ceramics, construction and petrochemicals,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the forum themed, ‘How to Expand Your Small- and Medium-sized Enterprise Business to Europe’ here today.

Second International Trade and Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, had said recently the FTA negotiations were expected to be finalised after Malaysia resumed the talks with the EU in late 2016.

Dominguez said the event aimed to create awareness among Malaysian businesses and encourage them to tap the various sectors in Spain, such as agriculture, fishery, engineering and services.

He said currently, Spain imposed a relatively competitive corporate tax of 25 per cent on foreign companies.

“Now it still easy for them to tap the EU countries despite the FTA talks still ongoing, as the region is an open market for businesses,” he said.

Dominguez said to-date, there were about 50 Spanish firms registered under Malaysian Spanish Chamber of Commerce and Industry, up from 23 a few years ago.

“We hope the number of Malaysian businesses in Spain will rise also,” he said.

Last year, the bilateral trade between Malaysia and Spain stood at EUR1.5 billion (EUR1 = RM4.78) from EUR1.6 billion in 2015.


Najib: 2017 GDP to be slightly higher than 4.2%

Posted on : 23-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia expects to record a slightly higher Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth this year from the 4.2% achieved last year, Prime Minister Najib Razak said today.

He also expects growth to rise in 2018.

The government had earlier forecast that the economy would grow between 4% and 5% in 2017.

These figures showed that the Malaysian economy was growing more than double the rates the International Monetary Fund had predicted for advanced economies over the same time period, Najib said in a keynote address at the Global Transformation Forum here today.

Najib reiterated that Malaysia was firmly on the path to become a high-income nation.

“This is why all the major rating agencies such as Fitch, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have reaffirmed Malaysia as being in the ‘A’ category.

“Let’s turn to the International Monetary Fund, one of the most respected institutions in the world. Its latest assessment of Malaysia said that the country’s economy continues to perform well, despite significant headwinds, and has made significant progress towards achieving high-income status,” he said.

The prime minister also quoted PriceWaterhouseCoopers’ recent report which predicted that Malaysia would have the 25th highest GDP in the world, measured by purchasing power parity, by 2030 – and the 24th by 2050.

“So top 20 is within our grasp,” said Najib.

Meanwhile, this year’s Global Transformation Forum features, among others, the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, Sir Richard Branson, the Founder of Virgin Group and also Jack Ma, the Founder of Alibaba Group.

Ma is Malaysia’s digital economic adviser.

Najib said Ma would share his ideas and experience to spearhead Malaysia’s economy through the development of the Digital Free Trade Zone – that would be the world’s first.

“We will be launching the Digital Free Trade Zone later today. I’m excited,” he added.

The Zone will benefit entrepreneurs by offering a conducive environment for digital companies to carry out business – invigorating Internet-based innovation and thus catalysing the Malaysian economy.

The initiative is part of the recently launched National E-commerce Strategic Roadmap that aims to double the country’s e-commerce growth from 10.8% to 20.8% by 2020.


M’sian companies in Asean and newcomers advised to contact Matrade for assistance

Posted on : 22-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

Malaysian companies currently operating in Indonesia, as well as newcomers wanting to set up operations in the country, are advised to contact the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) for assistance. Matrade Trade Commissioner in Jakarta, Naim Abdul Rahman said the office here would assist and facilitate the Malaysian companies to tap the huge Indonesian market.

“Getting advice from Matrade and utilising the existing network of Malaysian diaspora in the country is very important,” he said when met at a session with the Indonesia Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM) in Jakarta.


Rise in residential loan indicators a good sign

Posted on : 21-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

Improvements are seen in residential loan indicators for January 2017, whereby residential loans applied and approved data came in at 3.4 and 12.5 per cent year on year (y-o-y) respectively despite loans-to-deposit ratios (LDR) remaining at a record high at 89.8 per cent.
For residential loans applied, this marks the third consecutive month of positive year to date y-o-y movements while for residential loans approved data, this is the first positive month of growth in two years, which is very encouraging.

The team with Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd believe this could be largely driven by higher supply of affordable homes in the market from the government and private sector.

“In terms of the ratio of property loans applied to approved, it was still relatively low at 41 per cent, with property loans to total banking system approvals ratio is still lethargic at 34 per cent,” it added.

Kenanga Research’s industry survey still indicates that banking liquidity to the sector remains challenging although some industry players have cited that ‘quality buyers’ are emerging, improving the odds of loans approvals.

Overall, property sales growth is starting to look healthier as Kenanga Research’s universe is indicating five per cent y-o-y growth for FY17 to FY18E, thanks largely to Sunsuria Bhd, Eco World Development Group Bhd and IOI Properties Group Bhd, which are showing significant growth while the others are mainly flattish.

“We expect overall Malaysia residential sales, the biggest driver of the property market, to see flattish changes in transacted values in 2017.”

This also means that the odds of developers missing their sales targets are less likely this year, it added.

“As investors are forward looking, they pay less attention on earnings and turn their attention towards headline sales numbers, which some are seeing growth while others are largely flat.

“In fact, this year we may see developers exceeding sales targets, which will be much welcomed after the lull over 2015-16. At this juncture, it is too early to say which developers will positively surprise and the critical check-point is if developers can strongly deliver sales in 1H17. Hence, we make no revisions to our developers’ sales assumptions or estimates for now.”

Although the sector is still lacking catalyst, Kenanga Research called on investors to “ride on the broad market sentiment now”, particularly on developers with risks that have been mostly priced-in.


Lazada M’sia overtakes Lazada Singapore as fastest-growing e-commerce platform

Posted on : 21-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Lazada Malaysia has overtaken Lazada Singapore to become the fastest-growing e-commerce platform for the past nine months in Southeast Asia.

Lazada Malaysia Chief Executive Officer, Hans-Peter Ressel, said Lazada Malaysia recorded over 100 per cent growth in sales for 2016.

“With the logistics facilities such as roads and trains, flights, as well as the existence of local and foreign courier companies, this shows that Malaysia’s e-commerce market is well-developed,” he told reporters after launching Lazada Malaysia’s Fifth Birthday Campaign here today.


M’sia ranks second in ASEAN for IP (Intellectual Property) protection

Posted on : 21-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia ranks second in Asean and 19th in the world in terms of intellectual property (IP) protection for countries assessed in the latest US Chamber International IP Index.

The index measures the level of IP protection in a country based on 35 indicators and benchmarks the IP standards in 45 global economies which cover roughly 90% of global gross domestic product.

Among Asean countries covered in the index – which in its fifth edition released last month – Malaysia ranked only behind Singapore, and ahead of Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

“Malaysia has always been committed to improving the IP environment to be competitive regionally and globally.
“While Malaysia’s ranking should be positively recognised, the Government and private sector should continue to strive for a better IP ranking in the coming years,” president of the Asean Intellectual Property Association (Asean IPA), Chew Phye Keat, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Asean IPA, a private sector-based association with Asean non-governmental organisation status and dedicated to supporting IP protection in the region, lauded Malaysias IP efforts and progress.

Chew said protecting IP rights and safeguarding innovation is key to making Malaysia more attractive to foreign investors.

“The Malaysian government with its various agencies, truly understands the importance of IP protection and so far, always walks the talk,” he added.

Also noteworthy is the creation of Khazanah Harta Intelek Malaysia, a centralised repository of intellectual property to facilitate and spur commercialisation.

This is alongside the Malaysian Intellectual Property Corp (MyIPO), in progressing various initiatives to streamline trademark application and registration processes.

As a result, trademark applications have soared in the past decade, up from 25,894 in 2007 to 39,107 last year as registrations have also increased from 25,490 to 32,806 in the same period.

Meanwhile, Chew said the IP Index this year highlighted the issue of discrimination and restrictions on the use of brands in the packaging of different products.

Last year, the US Chamber of Commerce report, “Creation of a Contemporary Global Measure of Physical Counterfeiting 2016” warned that a likely adverse impact of plain packaging is the emergence of counterfeiting.

“In the absence of brands and trademarks as a form of product differentiation, counterfeits can be more easily manufactured and consumers are more likely to end up buying and consuming these products,” Chew said.

He said the Malaysian government’s ongoing efforts at curbing these activities and a continued holistic approach, which encompasses trademarks protection and effective enforcement, would be the key to further improving Malaysia’s IP ranking and reputation globally.


Najib to launch Digital Free-Trade Zone on Wednesday

Posted on : 21-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will launch the first Digital Free-Trade Zone on Wednesday.

Deputy minister of International Trade and Industry (Miti) Datuk Ahmad Maslan told Parliament today, the event will also see the presence of Alibaba founder, Jack Ma.

He said this when replying to a question from Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Leo Michael Toyad Abdullah (BN-Mukah)on the strategic framework being undertaken by Miti to ride the Industry 4.0 wave, as it could enhance the country’s income to RM2 trillion in the next seven to eight years.

The Digital Free-Trade Zone, a brainchild of Najib, is being planned to encourage more people to join the country’s e-commerce sector.

The implementation of the first Digital Free-Trade Zone in the world was unveiled in the 2017 Budget.

Internet tycoon Jack Ma was appointed Malaysia’s digital economy adviser by Najib during his official to China last year, and to help spearhead the country’s e-commerce development.

The Digital Free-Trade Zone will merge physical and virtual zones, with additional online and digital services to facilitate international e-commerce and invigorate Internet-based innovation.

Ahmad said Malaysia as a country that depended on trade needed to enhance its value chain to become a high quality factory base through the use of technology to effectively compete at both the regional and global levels.

“As such, the government has a number of initiatives related to Industry 4.0 including declaring 2017 as the Malaysia Internet Economy Year,’ he added.

Industry 4.0 encourages companies to use automation and exchange data in manufacturing technology that creates smart plants, with machines linked to the Internet and a system that can capture the overall production chain.

Ahmad said the contribution of Malaysia’s digital economy to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had reached 17.8 per cent in 2015 and almost realised the targeted 18.2 per cent set for 2020.

“A sum of RM162 million was allocated in Budget 2017 for various programmes as e-Commerce ecosystem and the Digital Maker Movement, as well as identifying a new location for the Digital Hub Malaysia,” he added.