Bulgaris’s tobacco industry is going up in smoke

Posted on : 14-08-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

Five decades later, Fatmagul and her husband Fahim are still hard at work in their small field in the southern Rhodope mountains, close to the Greek border.

The couple are already bent low over the plants well before dawn, their hands tarred from plucking the sticky leaves in the glow of their head torches.

Row after row, they will spend hours repeating the same gesture before returning to their nearby village of Karchovkso, in the Muslim-majority Kirkovo region, to hang the leaves to dry.

And yet these efforts will barely yield enough for survival.

“When you take into account the expenses, we’ll make only a couple of euros today,” Fahim, 57, shrugged.

The fall of communism led to the disbanding of cooperative farms and a decline in tobacco production, slowly smoking out what was once Bulgaria’s most valuable asset.

With a kilo of dried tobacco leaves costing around 2.50 euros ($2.95), the Alis will make only about 2,300 euros gross this year. They’ve taken up second jobs to make ends meet.

“We’re thinking about abandoning tobacco, there’s no point to it anymore,” Fahim said.

Although the Kirkovo region still boasts the European Union’s largest number of tobacco growers per capita, the output is a far cry from the days when Bulgaria’s so-called “golden leaf” was an international mark of quality.

Days of glory

Tobacco was first introduced in Bulgaria under Ottoman rule, with production surging by the 19th century.

“It was a real currency, allowing Bulgaria to take out international bank loans,” Sofia-based economist Nikolay Valkanov told AFP.

Of the four grown varieties, the oriental type was by far the most valued thanks to its highly aromatic flavour.

Demand exploded during and after both World Wars as an increasing number of soldiers and female factory workers took up smoking.

Under Soviet rule, Bulgaria became Europe’s leading tobacco producer and, at its peak, exported some 100,000 tonnes in the 1970s and 1980s.

Today this has shrivelled to 16,250 tonnes, according to official data.

And while Bulgaria is still in the EU’s top five growers, it cannot compete with the number one producer Italy, which churns out close to 55,000 tonnes of dried tobacco leaves per year.

“The drop has been drastic”, said Tsvetan Filev, chairman of Bulgaria’s National Tobacco Growers’ Association.

“We haven’t been able to rebuild a competitive system after the dismantling of the planned economy,” he told AFP.

Dying trade

With the collapse of communism, large-scale irrigation systems stopped working while skilled labour dropped in rural areas as people migrated to cities and abroad.

The restitution of expropriated lands saw the huge tobacco fields broken up into numerous small parcels and handed back to the original owners.

EU data from 2014 showed that Italy only had tenth of Bulgaria’s 23,700 tobacco growers, but produced five times as much.

“The way that the Bulgarian sector is organised now — with numerous tiny farms, low yields, insufficient know-how, low education — leaves it without a future,” said Valkanov.

There’s added pressure from neighbouring Turkey, Greece and Macedonia which have boosted their production and are threatening to push Bulgaria out of the market.

Many Bulgarians now head across the border to pick leaves in Greece to earn a decent wage.

“Once upon a time there were tobacco fields everywhere and look at what’s left now,” lamented Hasansabri Mehmed, the regional chief of the national growers’ association, pointing to the vast bushy planes around him.

There’s also a political dimension to the issue.

The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) party that controls Kirkovo and its Muslim population has resisted government plans to convince people to turn to other crops.

“Growers are politically highly dependent on the MRF. Anything tobacco-related has to go through them,” said Valkanov.

Either way, observers say the shallow and infertile fields of the Rhodope mountains are suited to little else other than tobacco, leaving growers hinged on a dying trade.


Sabah cementing business deal with Palawan

Posted on : 10-08-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

PUERTO PRINCESA: The number of Sabahan businessmen visiting Palawan to scout for potential business opportunities is on the rise.

BIMP-EAGA Kudat Business Council (BEBC) vice-chairman Datuk James Ibrahim attributed the affirmative reaction from the local business community because of the  much talk-about launching of the Kudat-Palawan Roll-On-Roll-Off ferry service anytime before the year ends.

“There are more  Sabahans now visiting the province to look for possible joint business ventures and other trading activities … this is because our local businessmen are optimistic that the Kudat-Palawan connectivity project promises ample of opportunities both for Sabahans and Palaweneos,” said James.

With the planned development projects to be implemented by incumbent Governor Jose C. Alvarez with his remaining years in office, he said Sabah can play as a major supplier of construction materials, water and power supplies, actively participate in the development of the tourism, agriculture, acqua-marine, human resource sectors and even in other fields among others.

“The group who are now in Puerto Princesa City comprises businessmen from the sectors of furniture, hotel, automotive repair and body shop, flour supplier, including power supply … they came here to see for themselves the opportunities Palawan is offering to the businessmen and investors, especially from Sabah,” the vice-chairman added.

James said Cement Industries Sabah (CIS) chairman Datuk Samsudin Yahya together with its chief executive officer Bahrul Razha Chuprat and manager Melvyn Yong are also with the group to discuss further with WTIE Enterprise on the possiblity of closing a business deal.

He said the Sabah delegation early Thursday morning paid a courtesy call to Alvarez at the  provincial office in the city where the executive officer briefed the visitors on the many business opportunties.

Late last month WTIE president cum CEO William Tan had expressed the company’s sincere desire to buy cement from CIS.

After the courtesy call, the CIS group also attended a meeting with Tan at his residence to further discuss and pave way for the realization of the business deal.

During the discussion, Tan expressed his hope that the planned buying of cement from Sabah will be concealed sooner than expected.

“The meeting was described by both parties as friendly and very promising,” James stressed.

Meanwhile, Samsudin in expressing his satisfaction, thanked Tan for the hospitality extended to them.

“With the way the meeting was carried out, I am also hopeful that the deal between CIS and WTIE will come true,” the chairman said.

Samsudin also thanked Alvarez for the opportunities being extended to Sabah.

“Palawan is a great province and working together with the Palaweneos would mean lots of benefits to the Sabahans,” he further expressed.

Towards this end, he advised other businessmen in Sabah to visit the province and see for themselves the business opportunities being offered to them in the province.

“Let’s not take this golden opportunity for granted and allow China and other foreign entrepreneurs to by-pass Sabah,” he added.


Paw power: China plans 100 panda-shaped solar plants on new Silk Road

Posted on : 25-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

BEIJING/HONG KONG – In a country where you can find everything from chopsticks to slippers designed to look like pandas, one Chinese energy company is going a step further by building 100 solar farms shaped like the bears along the route of the ambitious Belt and Road initiative.

Panda Green Energy Group (0686.HK) has already connected one such 50-megawatt (MW) plant to the grid in the northern province of Shanxi, the first step in a public relations stunt that emphasizes the cuddly side of the world’s No.2 economy.

Built with darker crystalline silicon and lighter-colored thin film solar cells, the plant resembles a cartoon giant panda from the air.

“The plant required an investment of 350 million yuan ($52 million), and it would require investment of $3 billion for 100 such plants,” Panda Green Energy’s Chief Executive Li Yuan told Reuters.

Li did not say where the longer-term investment would come from.

The Hong Kong-based firm is currently in talks with Canada, Australia, Germany and Italy to launch more panda-shaped power stations.

The Belt and Road initiative is a plan to emulate the ancient Silk Road by opening new trade corridors across the globe using roads, power lines, ports and energy pipelines.

A 100-MW panda power plant would be expected to generate 3.2 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy over 25 years, according to the company, capable of supplying power to over 10,000 households annually.

Panda Green Energy is currently constructing its second panda power plant in Shanxi, which accounts for a quarter of China’s coal reserves.

Utilization of one panda solar power plant will save the equivalent of a total 1.06 million tonnes of coal and cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 2.74 million tonnes in 25 years, the company said.

The firm has been investing in and running solar power plants in China’s major solar hubs such as Xinjiang and Qinghai province, as well as some solar projects in Britain.

Shanxi aims to install 12 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2020 versus 1.13 GW installed in 2015.

($1 = 6.7642 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Muyu Xu and Ryan Woo in Beijing and Pak Yiu in Hong Kong; Editing by Joseph Radford


Malaysia garners US$1.84 bln worth of trade, investment opportunities at Astana Expo

Posted on : 10-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

ASTANA (Kazakhstan): Malaysia has garnered US$1.84 billion worth of investment and trade opportunities over the past four weeks at the 2017 Astana Expo since it began on June 10, 2017.

Acting Deputy Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk S.K. Devamany, said the potential investments were generated through the Renewable Energy Week,Energy Efficiency Week, Green Innovation Week and Climate Change and Sustainability Week.

“The total has exceeded our initial target of RM1 billion and all ministries involved would have to work hard to transform these opportunities into real projects,” he told reporters at the Tourism and Trade Week here today.

The Tourism and Trade was the fifth of 10 themes at the exhibition this year which will end on Oct 10.

Also present were Deputy International Trade Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan and Deputy Minister of Tourism and Culture Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin.

Devamany said the Malaysian Pavillion themed, Empowering Green Growth, has attracted some 152,322 visitors, making it among the top ten pavillions to attract visitors.

“Our main showcase was on our forests besides pictures of big green butterflies which we placed outside the pavillion,? he added.


EU, Canada agree start of free trade agreement

Posted on : 09-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

The European Union and Canada said on Saturday they had agreed to start a free trade agreement on Sept. 21, paving the way for over 90 percent of the treaty to come into effect.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been championed by both sides as a landmark deal for open markets against a protectionist tide, but last-minute wrangles over cheese and pharmaceuticals were holding up its start.

“Meeting at the G20 in Hamburg, reconfirming our joint commitment to the rules-based international trading system, we agreed to set the date of 21 September 2017 to start the provisional application of the agreement, thus allowing for all the necessary implementing measures to be taken before that date,” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement.

“It is by opening up to each other, by working closely with those who share the same values that we will shape and harness globalization,” the joint declaration said.

The agreement will enter definitively into force once all 28 EU member states and parliaments ratify it.

The EU had not been satisfied that Canada would effectively open up its markets to 17,700 additional tonnes of EU cheese and provide guarantees for the patents of European pharmaceuticals.

A spokesman for Canadian trade minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said the allocation of the cheese tariff rate quota would be made before the September deadline.

“So what happens now is that both sides will complete their internal processes and closely consult one another on how the agreement will be implemented. This is about ensuring a smooth transition to a strong start for CETA,” the spokesman said.

Both sides had been hoping for the provisional implementation of the agreement this month.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti, additional reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Jon Boyle and Robin Pomeroy)


China vehicle maker eyeing East M’sia

Posted on : 28-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

DALI PREFECTURE, Yunnan Province, China: Dali-based commercial vehicle manufacturer, Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles Co. Ltd is planning to expand its existing market in Malaysia, said its group chief executive officer He Zhanfei.

In fact, He said the company would visit East Malaysia in July to study the market potential there.

Dali Junma Industry and Trade Group was established in June 2003, producing 30,000 tractors annually at its production lines in Eryuan County. In 2004, Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles was established with an annual production capacity of 200,000 vehicles from its five manufacturing plants.

The company develops two vehicle brands, namely Sojen and Projen, comprising nine series, 36 models and 146 variants.

The media delegation from Sabah had the opportunity to visit Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles headquarters and interviewed the top management of the company at Fengyi Innovation Industrial Park at the National Economic and Technological Development Zone, Dali during the recent trip to China organised by the Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in Kota Kinabalu.

The delegation was taken on a tour around the production plant where the trucks are manufactured and assembled.

In line with the Belt and Road initiative and leveraging on Yunnan’s advantage as the hub in reaching out to South Asia and Southeast Asia (SEA) , the company is not only focusing on expanding its share in the domestic market, but is also actively venturing out to market its commercial vehicles to South Asia, SEA and West Asia regions.

According to He, Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles recorded RMB 19.4 billion production value in 2016.

Last year, the company produced 130,000 trucks, 40,000 low-speed commercial vehicles and 96,000 tractors, which are not only sold in the domestic market, but  exported to nine countries in SEA, South Asia and West Asia.

“In 2016, our company exported 13,478 vehicles, 10 per cent of which were to Malaysia. We have high hopes on the markets in West Asia and SEA,” he said.

He said Yunnan Lifan Junma Vehicles entered the Malaysian market early this year and had set up a sales outlet in Kuala Lumpur.

The next step will be a trip to Sabah and Sarawak next month to assess the market potential in East Malaysia, he said.

The company would make the necessary adjustments to its vehicles and accessories to meet the specifications required for different road conditions and terrain in overseas markets. The company is also in international trading, real estate and cultural tourism business. According to Dali Foreign Affairs Office senior official Xie Yubao, Dali produces 70 per cent of dairy products in Yunnan Province. There are 90,000 dairy cows in Dali to supply milk to three local dairy and yogurt product manufacturers.

During the trip, the media delegation visited Yunnan Ouya Dairy Products Co. Ltd that produces more than 70 kinds of dairy and yogurt products.

Established in 2003, the company recorded a sales revenue of RMB 950 million last year. At present, it has two factories which can process up to 640 tonnes of fresh milk daily. Each day, the company processes 300 tonnes of fresh milk sourced from its own dairy farms, partners and more than 30,000 individual dairy farmers.

Its annual output is reported at 150,000 tonnes. Due to growing market demand, the company has invested RMB 300 million in building its third dairy processing plant last year, which is expected to boost the company’s annual output to 200,000 tonnes.

The dairy and yogurt products made by Yunnan Ouya Dairy Products are certified halal.

Located at Xiaguan, Dali, Yunnan Xiaguan Tuocha (Group) Co. Ltd is one of the top three tea companies in China in terms of the scale of production. The company was formerly founded as Yunnan Xiaguan Tea Factory in 1941. In the 1950s, dozens of big and small tea firms established in the early 20th century in Dali were integrated into Xiaguan Tea Factory through public-private partnerships.

The company produces close to 200 varieties of tea products, including pressed tea, green tea, specialty tea and tea bags. The company has more than 700 outlets at 30 provinces in China, and produces up to 5,000 tonnes of tea annually. Its products are exported to over 10 countries including Japan, Korea and Malaysia.

Yunnan Xiaguan Tuocha is the patent holder of Tuocha tea which is a dome-shaped Pu’er tea as well as the only tea producer that makes Tuocha tea in mushroom shape. The company is  constructing a new 50-acre production, sightseeing cum leisure site at Yinqiao town.


Wealthy Chinese rise to 1.6mln in past decade, up nearly 9 times – survey

Posted on : 20-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

The number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs) in China has risen nearly 9 times since a decade ago, a private survey released on Tuesday showed, as strong growth in the world’s second-largest economy has spurred wealth creation.

Chinese with at least 10 million yuan ($1.47 million) of investable assets hit 1.6 million in 2016, up from 180,000 in 2006, according to the 2017 China Private Wealth Report by Bain Consulting and China Merchants Bank. The overall value of the private wealth market increased to 165 trillion yuan in 2016, growing at 21 percent annually in 2014-2016.

But the growth rate of China’s private wealth market is expected to decline to 14 percent in 2017 to a total size of 188 trillion yuan.

Around 120,000 HNWIs had at least 100 million yuan worth of investable assets, up from less than 10,000 people in 2006.

The percentage of HNWIs with overseas investment increased to 56 percent in 2017, up from 19 percent in 2011, but the overall percentage of assets invested overseas has stabilized since 2013.

The top five destinations for overseas investment were Hong Kong, the United States, Australia and Canada although Hong Kong’s popularity fell 18 percent and the United States dropped 3 percent from 2015 to 2017.

Respondents said their top three reasons for investing overseas were to diversify investment risks, to capture market opportunities of overseas investments and to migrate.

Sixty-three percent of rich Chinese rely on financial service providers to manage their domestic financial assets and among them, around half use private banking services provided by commercial banks.

China’s wealthy are concentrated in major cities and coastal areas, the survey found, but now 22 Chinese provinces have at least 20,000 HNWIs. Most respondents said their top priorities. were “wealth preservation” and “wealth inheritance”, in contrast to 2009 when nearly half of HNWIs surveyed said “wealth creation” or “quality of life” were their main goals.

($1 = 6.8166 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong and Shu Zhang; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)


First flying car set for take off in 2018

Posted on : 19-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

KUCHING: CIMB Bank Bhd (CIMB Bank) and Lazada Malaysia have entered into a strategic partnership to introduce an exciting Mastercard prepaid card which can be approved online, making it the fastest and most convenient prepaid card for the digitally savvy shopper.

The card offers great cash rebates as well as merchant discounts to reward customers when they shop at Lazada, the number one online retailer in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

The card is available online on CIMB Clicks and the Lazada website. Upon the issuance of the virtual 16-digit card number, customers can start shopping almost right away. Subsequently, they will be issued with a physical CIMB Lazada Prepaid Mastercard for offline spending and banking facilities in Malaysia, including ATM cash withdrawals and internet/mobile banking.

Chief executive officer, Group Consumer Banking, CIMB Group Samir Gupta said, “We are proud to partner with Lazada and Mastercard on this fully digital co-brand card, to bring unique benefits and great convenience to our customers.

“The online shopping segment in Malaysia and Southeast Asia is expanding rapidly and we are excited to contribute to this growth story. This fits into our overall digital strategy to lead in the e-commerce payment ecosystem, as we go the extra mile to enhance our customers’ experience by making it easier, more efficient and more secure for them to shop online.”

With this card, customers will enjoy a one per cent cash rebate, capped at RM25 per month for online Lazada purchases at www.lazada.com.my. Other non-Lazada purchases are eligible for a 0.50 per cent cash rebate up to RM25 per month.

In addition, from now until December 5, 2017, customers can enjoy the first-year annual fee waiver and an additional 15 per cent bonus cash rebate, capped at RM25 per month for purchases from Lazada.

“We are thrilled to embark on this partnership with CIMB Bank in launching this virtual co brand Mastercard. This collaboration ties in with Lazada’s commitment to continuously improve consumers’ shopping experience online through exceptional customer service, a wider variety of products and a range of payment solutions.

“With Lazada’s Riang Ria Raya campaign happening from now until 30 June, this card would enable consumers to shop for their Raya needs while enjoying a secure and hassle free experience on our platform,” said Hans-Peter Ressel, CEO of Lazada Malaysia.

“The Mastercard Online Shopping Study 2017 showed that eight in 10 consumers across Asia Pacific intend to make at least one online purchase in the first half of this year.

“The continued interest and optimistic online shopping attitude showcases the potential innovative e-payments have to support the burgeoning growth of the e-commerce industry.

“The CIMB Lazada Prepaid Mastercard has a strong and relevant customer proposition, combining the convenience, safety and efficiency that consumers value with a range of unique benefits that match their lifestyle demands,” added Perry Ong, country manager, Malaysia and Brunei, Mastercard.

The CIMB Lazada Prepaid Mastercard is exclusively available to all existing CIMB customers. CIMB customers who have yet to have access to CIMB Clicks can simply logon to www.cimbclicks.com.my to register for CIMB Clicks first prior to applying online for the CIMB Lazada Prepaid Mastercard.


Alibaba’s Tmal World targeting South-East Asia mart

Posted on : 14-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

HANGZHOU: Alibaba Group’s online shopping platform for China’s merchandise, Tmall World, is targeting the sizeable 500 million population from South-East Asia.

Director Tmall World, Elaine Hu, said in South-East Asia, Malaysia is experiencing rapid growth in terms of new users due to good product offerings, promotions and logistics.

“We are focussing on localised products such as fashion and accessories which are popular in Malaysia,” she told the Malaysian media on a site visit to Alibaba’s Xixi Campus yesterday.

Hu said efforts had been made to improve on delivery time for Malaysian consumers with a 20 per cent reduction in delivery time since last year.

“However, we discovered that delivery is not the only issue, as pricing is also another important factor,” she said.

Tmall World, Hu said, worked with local partners in Malaysia to handle last-mile delivery and based on feedback, consumers were satisfied with the logistics services.

“Traditional dresses and decorations are also popular in Malaysia,” she said.

To attract the large Malaysian consumers, she said, products offerings were also extended to discounts on logistics and products.

Along with the mid-year mega sale from June 18 to June 20, 2017, she said, Tmall World, with other Alibaba’s online shopping channels, were also rolling out new sea freight option for Malaysian market with lower courier fee ranging from RM6 per kilogram (kg), excluding the six per cent Goods and Services Tax charges.

“This offer is applicable for individual consignments of up to 100 kgs each or consolidated consignments of up to 200 kgs each,” she said.

SOURCE: Bernama

Bank Mandiri (Indonesia’s leading commercial bank) to open first branch in Malaysia

Posted on : 14-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

JAKARTA: Bank Mandiri, Indonesia’s leading commercial bank, will be opening its first branch in Malaysia within the next few months.

According to a report in Indonesian newspaper, Koran Tempo, the Malaysian government, via Bank Negara Malaysia, had given the green light to Bank Mandiri’s ‘Qualified Asean Bank’ (QAB) status application recently.

The newspaper quoted Bank Mandiri’s chief executive officer, Kartika Wirjoatmodjo, as saying that the bank is currently finalising its proposals and that it was expecting to receive its operating licence by August this year.

He said Bank Mandiri had allocated RM300 million to fund the opening of its branch in Malaysia, adding that the bank would be injecting its capital in three stages, with an initial commitment of around RM100 million or between US$50 million and US$60 million (US$1=RM4.26).

Bank Mandiri was established by the Indonesian Ministry of Finance in 1998, in which the Indonesian government retained a 60 per cent stake, while the balance are owned by local and foreign shareholders.

SOURCE: The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Economic pundits forecast 2.9 pct global economic growth in 2017

Posted on : 14-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

NEW YORK: Economists at the New York-based Conference Board, a global, independent business membership and research association, forecast that the current cyclical upswing and recovery in productivity will raise global growth to 2.9 per cent in 2017, up from 2.5 per cent last year.

In its latest Global Economic Outlook report released recently, the Conference Board, which won the US Consensus Economics 2016 Forecast Accuracy Award, said that the Leading Economic Index for the global economy showed a widespread strengthening of leading indicators around the world, especially in emerging markets and, particularly, in India and China.

While most of 2015 and 2016 showed a weakening in business cycle dynamics with the recession risk far greater during the late 2015 and early 2016, it said the recent turnaround reflected a confluence of positive forces.

“Strong consumer and business confidence, strengthening stock markets, a turnaround in the global industrial cycle, and a recent rise in the rate of global trade all point to strengthening cycle dynamics,” explained Bart van Ark, chief economist at the Conference Board.

But van Ark also warned that recovery supported by a pro-cyclical improvement in productivity, could die out if businesses did not accelerate investment.

He pointed out that medium term challenges manifested in the slowing labour supply and the sluggish pace at which new technologies were translating themselves into a higher growth potential for the global economy.

The latest estimates of monthly leading economic indicators and quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) growth indicated that rising confidence among business and consumers in recent quarters was finally translating into some positive impact on the “real economy”, van Ark noted.

He envisaged the mature economies, mainly in the west and Japan, would show a “small improvement” rising from 2.0 per cent in 2016 to 2.1 per cent in 2017, but cautioned that the cyclical dynamics which had helped the Euro Area outlook, had weakened in the UK even before last year’s disruptive Brexit vote.

The UK growth is projected at 1.5 per cent for 2017 but the present economic uncertainty and Brexit strategy point to increasing risks in that outlook.

Among emerging economies, of special interest was the economic performance of India and China, with India’s economy rebounding well after the demonetisation in late 2016 while China beat expectations with a fairly strong first quarter, benefiting from the strengthening of the global industrial cycle.

However, future growth for China remained at risk as fiscal and monetary policy becomes less supportive, which in turn may contribute to a slowing environment for business investment and real estate,” van Ark observed.

The Conference Board lowered its projections for the Middle East and Turkey which face increased political uncertainties, enhancing the vulnerability of some of the region’s major economies, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

The Conference Board’s economists also touched on major issues of global interest.

SOURCE: The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Malaysia to have Tmall World (Alibaba Group)

Posted on : 13-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) on Monday said it is launching new sales channels in Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan as China’s deep-pocketed e-commerce firms vie for new users in the region.

The new service, Tmall World, will allow overseas Chinese users to buy goods from Alibaba’s Tmall brand-to-consumer retail site, the company said in a statement.

“Alibaba will provide end-to-end solutions including logistics, payment, and localization support catering to each local market’s needs,” the statement said.

The firm plans on extending the Tmall World network to other countries in the future.

Alibaba has invested heavily in Southeast Asia, seeking to meet lofty user acquisition goals as the Chinese retail market shows signs of maturing.

Alibaba chairman Jack Ma told investors on Friday the company is aiming to have 2 billion customers within 15 years, with overseas customers accounting for 1.2 billion of those users.

Alibaba had roughly 450 million active annual buyers on its China marketplaces in the year ended March 31.

In 2016 it agreed to invest $1 billion in Southeast Asian retailer Lazada Group, and launching a service that allows local users to purchase a selection of Tmall goods.

The latest sales channels take aim at the 100 million Chinese citizens living overseas, and users must have an active Chinese payment method to purchase goods.

It comes as Alibaba payment affiliate Ant Financial is also expanding heavily in the region through investments and joint ventures.

In the past year the finance firm has sealed deals in Thailand, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong and India, as well as rebranding Lazada Group’s payment arm Hello Pay under Ant Financial’s own Alipay brand.

It also comes as rival Chinese e-commerce firm JD.com Inc (JD.O) is expanding operations in Southeast Asia.

On Friday JD.com Chief Executive Richard Liu told Reuters that the firm plans to launch services in Thailand by the end of the year, building on existing activities in Indonesia.


Malaysia, Kazakhstan ink MoU cooperation in green technology

Posted on : 12-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

ASTANA, KAZAKHSTAN: Malaysia and Kazakhstan today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to increase bilateral trade and cooperation in green technology and energy.

The MoU will see both countries identifying ways of implementing programmes or projects in areas of green technology, including renewable energy, green buildings, smart cities and carbon emission mitigation.

The MoU was signed by Malaysia’s Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Johnity Ongkili and Kazakhstan’s Vice-Minister of Energy, Gani Sadibekov at the Malaysia Energy Forum held here today, in conjunction with Astana Expo 2017.

The energy, green technology and water ministry in a statement indicated that Malaysia aimed to achieve RM1 billion in trade, investments and cooperation through its participation at Astana Expo 2017 from June 10 until Sept 10.

“The MoU will certainly help to achieve this target,” said the statement.

In 2015, the volume of trade between Malaysia and Kazakhstan was about RM429.5 million (USD100 million).

However, the figure dropped slightly to RM360.7 million (USD84 million) last year as a result of foreign exchange fluctuations.

Themed, ‘Energy of the Future’, Astana Expo 2017 is an internationally specialised exhibition aimed to inspire global debate between countries, non-governmental organisations, companies and the public regarding the decisive impact that energy management has on the lives of the people and planet.


Malaysia offers vast opportunities for foreign franchise companies

Posted on : 01-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

HO CHI MINH CITY— Malaysia offers vast opportunities for franchise companies from abroad, particularly Asean countries, to expand into the local market.

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainuddin said Malaysia has specific legislation to regulate the franchise industry in order to spur its growth.

“Malaysia leads the franchise industry in the region as we are armed with the Franchise Act 1998, and has an inclusive development plan to support the industry.

“Not many countries have such laws to regulate the franchise industry like Malaysia,” he said during the Malaysia-Vietnam business forum in conjunction with the ninth Vietnam International Retail & Franchise Show here today.

Hence, Malaysia is willing to share its experience in the franchise industry development with Vietnam, he said, adding that likewise Vietnam should have similar legislation to enable both countries to make forays into the Asean market.

He said Malaysia has a dedicated agency, namely Perbadanan Nasional Berhad to provide advice and financial assistance to franchisors and master franchisees to strengthen their capabilities.

Hamzah later opened the Malaysia Franchise Pavilion which featured 12 Malaysian home-grown franchisors, namely Global Art, Poney, House of Healin, Place2stay, Old Town White Coffee, The Manhattan Fish Market, Dapur Penyet, Bangi Kopitiam, Constant, Ibu Sayang, Q-dees, and GTC.

Seven Malaysian franchise brands, namely Bonia, Gintell, Global Art, U C Mas, Tomei, Lovely Lace, and GTC have already made their presence in Vietnam, boasting 143 outlets between them.

Hamzah was accompanied by Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri Jamil Salleh, PNS Managing Director Datuk Syed Kamarulzaman Syed Zainol Khodki Shahabudin, MyIPO Director-General Datuk Shamsiah Kamaruddin, and Companies Commission of Malaysia Chief Executive Officer Datuk Zahrah Abdul Wahab Fenner.


Malaysian F&B products gaining popularity in Thailand

Posted on : 31-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

BANGKOK – Malaysian food and beverage (F&B) products have gained popularity in Thailand, accounting for 28.2 per cent of the nation’s total exports to the country, said Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation’s (MATRADE) Trade Commissioner in Thailand, Norman Dzulkarnain Nasri.

“Processed food was Malaysia’s fourth biggest export to Thailand last year, and the country has huge business potential that could be explored by Malaysian F&B companies,” he told Bernama here today.

He said this week, 63 Malaysian F&B companies were participating in the THAIFEX World of Food Asia 2017, Southeast Asia’s largest F&B exhibition, starting from today and ending on June 3.

As one of the world’s largest F&B exhibitions, THAIFEX will benefit the Malaysian participants as it will help to expose them to the business opportunities available in the F&B sector worldwide.

“Moreover, the halal certification by Malaysian authorities proves to be advantageous for the F&B products, as they would be able to penetrate the global market with the certification,” he said.

Norman said this year, THAIFEX organisers had invited 72 buyer companies from all over the world to meet with participating Malaysian companies, giving them the chance to market their products to international customers.

He added that MATRADE would continue to assist Malaysian companies to expand their operations in Thailand through efforts which included business-matching sessions with their Thai counterparts.

Thailand was Malaysia’s fifth biggest trade partner last year, with exports amounting to RM44.1 billion, comprising crude petroleum (66.7 per cent), transport equipment (47.2 per cent), steel products (36.8 per cent), processed food (28.2 per cent), and chemicals and chemical products (22.9 per cent).

During the first quarter of this year, the nation’s exports to Thailand increased 15.1 per cent to RM12.6 billion compared to the same period last year.