Furniture exports to grow five pct in 2017, says Minister Mah

Posted on : 08-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR– Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong has expressed confidence that Malaysia’s furniture exports would grow five per cent this year.

He said this optimism was based on the Netherlands’ recognition of the country’s timber certification programme, which was known as the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme, last month.

The recognition provides a status and paves the way for local furniture products to enter other countries, he said, adding that the Dutch government was very strict on recognition of certificates.

“Following the approval of our timber certificate, it gives us a status to enter other countries,” he told reporters after officiating the Malaysian International Furniture Fair (MIFF) 2017 here, today.

Mah said Malaysian furniture was renowned for its brand, quality and pricing.

He is optimistic that efforts to bolster Malaysia’s furniture exports would pay off, enabling the country to be among world’s top five largest furniture exporters in five years’ time from the eight position.

“We have entered the Middle Eastern countries, and Iran has shown interest in our furniture too,” he said, adding that furniture designed by young Malaysian designers would also help take Malaysia’s exports to a higher level.

Commenting on the US market, Mah said despite the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) being in limbo, the exports to the US remained firm.

However, he said the government would still focus on ASEAN countries which have a combined population of 600 million.

Earlier in his speech, Mah said exports of Malaysian furniture products rose to RM9.53 billion in 2016, up 4.2 per cent from RM9.14 billion in 2015.

“Wooden furniture accounted for 80 per cent of that amount,” he said, adding that to date, the “Made in Malaysia” furniture was exported to over 160 countries.

“Malaysia has a strong market presence in the US, Japan and Australia.

“We are also experiencing substantial growth in the UK, China, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia,” he said.

On the MIFF partnership with China’s portal to implement an online-to-offline business, Mah hopes local furniture industry players would take advantage and utilise the medium to market their products.


Sabah delegation in China to boost investment ties

Posted on : 08-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Local Business

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has the potential to become an important window for China to export its agricultural products to Southeast Asia countries due to its strategic location in the region, said Minister of Special Tasks Datuk Teo Chee Kang.

Teo said Sabah has the support from the Federal Government to develop the State as a logistics hub in the region.

“Sabah, located strategically in the centre of the Southeast Asia region, can be an important window for China to export its agricultural products to the 600 million population in the region.”

He said the joint venture rubber plantation project between Bornion Timber Sdn Bhd and Guangdong Guangken Rubber Group Co. Ltd. was a successful example of collaboration between Sabah and China-based enterprises.

“I believe Sabah and China have much room to explore in terms of collaboration opportunities in the agricultural sector,” Teo said during his visit to the Department of Agriculture of Hubei Province in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Teo and Deputy Speaker of State Legislative Assembly, Datuk Johnson Tee, were invited by Malaysia China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) Sabah branch led by its president, Datuk Frankie Liew, for a nine-day visit to China.

The 33-member delegation, comprising local entrepreneurs from various sectors including property, tourism and agriculture, left the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) on March 4.

Their itinerary include visits to Wuhan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Macau and other major cities in China where they will meet with government officials, chambers of commerce and entrepreneurs to explore business opportunities and collaborations.

During a dinner hosted by the Tong Daochi, the Vice Governor of Hubei Province, Teo also said that the business investments and collaborations between Sabah and Wuhan could be further enhanced with the establishment of friendship city ties between both places and the availability of direct flights.

He hoped that this visit would mark the beginning of a win-win relations between Sabah and Wuhan.

In a separate dialogue session with Hubei’s Housing, Urban and Rural Construction Department and property developers, Teo addressed the security concerns raised such as the missing MH370 flight, abduction cases and intrusion of Filipino militants into Sabah.

He said the increasing tourist arrivals showed that the negative impact of the missing MH370 to the tourism industry in Sabah two years ago had gradually diminished.

As for the security concerns, Teo said he recently accompanied the Chief Minister for an inspection in the east cost of Sabah and found the area to be very safe.

“As such, foreign investors need not worry about security issues in Sabah,” he assured.

During the four-day visit in Wuhan, the delegation has also met with officials from the Overseas Chinese Affairs Office of the People’s Government of Hebei Province, Hubei Provincial Tourism Development Committee and Foreign Affairs (Overseas Chinese Affairs) Office of Hubei Provincial People’s Government.

The delegation also visited tourist attractions in Wuhan, such as the Yellow Crane Tower (Huang He Lou), Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge, museums, high technology development zone, free trade zone and Optics Valley of China.

Meanwhile, Liew hoped that the Sabahan entrepreneurs would take the opportunity to establish friendship with their counterparts in China in order to explore mutually beneficial investment opportunities.

“The purpose of organizing the visit to China is to open up collaboration opportunities for enterprises that complement each other,” he said.

Also present were MCCC Sabah branch advisor cum Sabah Timber Association president Datuk James Hwong, Kota Kinabalu Hokkien Association president Datuk Clement Yeh, Sabah Institute of Art (SIA) chief executive officer Professor Dato’ Dr Wilson Yong Tung Yung, MCCC Sabah branch life honorary advisor Datuk Lau Kok Sing, Sabah Tourism Federation (STF) president Datuk Seri Winston Liaw, Political Secretary to the Minister of Special Tasks Peter Chong Su Leong and Liaison Secretary to the Minister of Special Tasks Albert Kok.


San Miguel keen to set up trading facility in M’sia

Posted on : 08-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

MANILA: Philippines’ food and beverage company, San Miguel PureFoods Co, is keen to set up a trading facility in Malaysia to tap the country’s halal market.

Its president, Francisco S. Alego III, said a feasibility study would be undertaken and the products would be brought to the Malaysian market.

He said in addition to cater to the local market, the food processing arm of San Miguel would also set its sight to make this facility a hub for exports.

“I think most countries welcomed halal products that are produced in Malaysia and that’s why we are seriously looking into the possibility of setting up the facility whether to process meat, beef, or dairy products from Malaysia,” he told Malaysia reporters after a meeting with International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
At the moment, he said, Malaysia’s operation of San Miguel, via Petron Malaysia Bhd, contributed a single digit to the group.

“This is relatively small although we see a huge opportunity in Malaysia, especially with the per capita income, Malaysia is huge.

“So, I think this meeting today is the start of a bigger thing to come between our two countries with San Miguel in the forefront,” he said.

Also present was Halal Industry Development Corp (HDC) Vice President (Industry Development), Ahmad Lokman Ibrahim.

HDC, an agency under Miti, focussing on coordinating overall development of the halal industry in Malaysia, was ready to assist San Miguel set up the facility, Ahmad Lokman said.

Malaysia, he said, has successfully developed three halal parks and would be offered to those keen to be part of the development.

“A similar model can also be developed in this country with HDC’s expertise and knowledge,” he said.

Last year, he said, Malaysia exported US$10bil (RM44.6bil) worth of halal products.

The meeting ended Mustapa’s working visit to Manila, which was held in conjunction with the 23rd Asean Economic Meeting’s (AEM) retreat which was held from March 8 to 10.

Earlier, Mustapa spent time together with local business community during a luncheon, before meeting with Secretary of Philippines Department of Trade and Industry, Ramon Lopez.

SOURCE- Bernama

Blueprint to spur trade investment between Malaysia & Philippines

Posted on : 08-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

MANILA– The Malaysia-Philippines Business Council (MPBC) and the Philippines-Malaysia Business Council (PMBC) will develop a five-year blueprint to give a fresh impetus to both countries’ trade and investment.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the blueprint would also further raise the visibility of both countries.

“I hope both countries will contribute inputs for the blueprint,” he said after chairing a meeting between both councils here today.

The MPBC representatives are from AlloyMtd Group, Muhibbah Engineering (M) Bhd, Halal Industry Development Corporation and Alumni Institute of Malaysia while the PMBC are represented by San Miguel Corp, Makati Business Club and Maybank ATR Kim End Securities.

Mustapa said both countries should focus on sectors which Malaysia’s excel in such as halal, finance and services industries.

“We will share our knowledge with the Philippines. I have suggested to them to focus on small and medium enterprise development and to engage an intern per company.

“This is to allow young Malaysians to work together with our Philippines counterparts and vice-versa.

“This is important as ASEAN is getting more integrated. I anticipate more businesses to be conducted in this region and it is vital for youngsters to understand the culture, language and companies of various ethnicities,” he said after attending the launch of AlloyMtd Group’s mini Putrajaya project in Palayan.

Mustapa, is on a working visit to Manila in conjunction with the 23rd Asean Economic Minister retreat held here from March 8 to 10.

He said last year, the Philippines economy grew almost seven per cent and in the next five years, it was expected to grow more than 6.5 per cent per annum.

“There is a lot of developments going on here especially in the infrastructure sector and I foresee Malaysia to capitalise on them.

“In Malaysia, we are also going through massive transformation and this will be good for both countries,” he said.

Meanwhile on bilateral trade, Mustapa said total bilateral trade, last year, amounted to RM20.24 billion, an of 2.7 per cent over RM19.71 billion registered in 2015.

He said exports registered a growth of 3.6 per cent to RM13.64 billion while imports stood at RM6.6 billion, up one per cent.

“Overall, Malaysia’s trade surplus rose 6.1 per cent to RM7.05 billion from RM6.65 billion previously.

“Among products exported to the Philippines are electrical and electronics goods, palm oil and chemical based products, machineries and processed food while items imported included electrical and electronics goods, chemical based products, natural rubbers, processed food, optical and scientific equipment,” he added.


M’sian car vendors see great potential to collaborate with Japanese counterparts

Posted on : 08-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian car vendors see great potentials in partnering with their Japanese counterparts to tap the growing Asean Economic Community market.

In a statement today, Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) said 44 Japanese car vendors and trading companies attended a business-matchmaking session with 25 Perodua vendors in Tsu City, Mei Prefecture yesterday.

The event was hosted by Hyakugo Bank of Japan.

During the event, bank President Toshiyasu Ito said South-East Asia was an attractive market for Japanese companies and that partnerships between Malaysian and Japanese companies with the most advanced technology would give a competitive edge in the market.
The event was jointly organised by the Malaysian Automotive Association, Malaysia Investment Development Authority, Malaysia External Trade Development Corp, Japan Trade Organisation and Perodua.

The potential collaborations include strategic partnership and/or technical assistance in plastic and metal parts, tools, electrical parts and after-market parts.

MAI Chief Operating Officer, Nizma Mohd Nazar, said the event was a testimony of the strong bilateral economic relationship between Malaysia and Japan.

“It is intended to be a platform for our vendors to identify suitable and potential joint-ventures with Japanese car companies.

“It would also help promote strategic alliances in various business areas, including technological collaboration, business expansion opportunities, export market penetration and knowledge sharing, Nizma said.

Japan was Malaysias second largest trading partner in car products, with two-way trade amounting to RM6.8bil in 2015.

Malaysias exports of car parts and components to Japan last year increased by 27% to RM301.5mil from RM237.5mil in 2014.

“Perodua is a testament to what a Japan-Malaysia partnership can do, said Nizma.

Perodua President/chief executive officer, Datuk Dr Aminar Rashid Salleh, said the event was a milestone for the Malaysian car industry, as the Malaysian vendors involved were the best in their respective fields and were now on the verge or going regional, if not global.

They were vetted based on their dedication towards improving quality, discipline, productivity and commitment towards better cost management, he said.

Aminar said the business-matching session was a continuation of the Look East Policy, which began in 1981 as well as an opportunity to take advantage of the free trade agreement between Malaysia and Japan.


University (Uni Teknologi Petronas) produces biopesticide to control paddy fields pests

Posted on : 08-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

SERI ISKANDAR– A group of researchers from Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) here have produced an organic-based ‘biopesticide’ to overcome the issue of pests while increasing paddy yield.
The ‘biopesticide’ was developed by five lecturers and 15 UTP students since 2015 under UTP’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme.

Its project leader Prof Madya Dr Suzana Yusup said the project which was a collaborative effort between UTP and the Agriculture Department as well as Bio-X Techno Sdn Bhd successfully proved that organic insecticides can overcome attacks from insects such as the brown plant hopper, locust and bugs.

“Farmers from the Perak Tengah district had suffered great losses which affected their source of income. Thus, UTP together with the government department and the private sector took the initiative to address the issue,” she told Bernama after attending a briefing on the project at the Bota/Lambor Farmers Association, in Titi Gantong, near Bota Kiri, here today.

“Organic poison does not affect consumer’s health nor damage the environment as it is made from plants in Malaysia,” said Suzana who is also a lecturer at UTP’s Chemical Engineering Department.

She said the study was conducted to identify the effectiveness of organic poison used for three seasons on paddy planting areas at the Paddy Centre of Excellence, in Titi Serong Agriculture Department.

“We have carried out two comparisons using organic poison and chemical poison. The findings of the study revealed that the (paddy) yield slightly increased although with unpredictable weather,” she said.

Suzana added that UTP intends to promote the product in the domestic and foreign market while improving the quality of the ‘biopesticide’.

Meanwhile, UTP Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Prof Dr Ahmad Fadzil Mohamad Hani said the project won second place in the Elsevier Green and Sustainable Chemistry Challenge held in Germany last year.

“Among the five hundred proposals submitted to the challenge, Suzana’s project was chosen among the top five finalists. This success has gained recognition for UTP at the international level,” he said.

Ahmad Fadzil added, UTP, as a higher learning institution that is greatly concerned about the sustainability of nature, conducted the research as part of the university’s social responsibility in research related to engineering, technology and the society.


Mustapa to attend AEM (23rd Asean Economic Ministers’ Retreat and Related) meeting in Manila

Posted on : 08-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR – International Trade and Industry Minister (Miti) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed will attend the 23rd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ (AEM) Retreat and Related Meetings in Manila from March 8-10.

In a statement today, Miti said the ASEAN economic ministers would exchange views and deliberate on commemorative activities for the 50th Anniversary of the regional grouping, Priority Deliverables for 2017, the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Blueprint 2025, addressing challenges on trade facilitation measures, Non-Tariff Barriers/Non-Tariff Measures and progress in integration of other economic sectors.

“The economic ministers are also expected to deliberate on accelerating the pace of negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),” it added.

The 15th AEM-EU Consultations would also be held on the sidelines of the AEM Retreat to discuss the way forward for the formal region-to-region talks towards the possible resumption of the ASEAN-EU Free Trade Area.

Apart from these meetings, the economic ministers would meet representatives from the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and ASEAN-EU Business Council.

Meanwhile, the working visit to Manila is also part of MITI’s continuous efforts at further intensifying trade and investment relations between the two countries.

Mustapa would meet with the Philippine-Malaysia Business Council and Malaysia-Philippines Business Council, as well as, have a session with the business community in the Philippines.

These meetings are aimed at further enhancing the Malaysia-Philippines economic ties, strengthening business to business collaboration and potential opportunities for tie-ups in the halal industry.

Mustapa will also inaugurate an infrastructure project by AlloyMtd Group in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija.


Malaysia expected to produce 900,000 tonnes of biodiesel in 2017

Posted on : 08-03-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

Malaysia expected to increase output by 80% this year

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is expected to produce 900,000 tonnes of biodiesel in 2017, up about 80% from half a million tonnes last year, while Indonesia’s production is projected to rise to 3.5 million tonnes this year from three million tonnes in 2016, according to industry expert U.R. Unnithan.

Met on the sidelines of the 28th Global Palm and Lauric Oils Conference here yesterday, Unnithan said the forecasts were based on the current pricing of crude palm oil (CPO) and oil prices.

At yesterday’s close, CPO fell 1.5% to RM2,851 per tonne.

Unnithan, who is also the president of the Malaysian Biodiesel Association, said where the current oil prices were at, biodiesel plants were unable to make profits.

“Today, the utilisation capacity is under 25%, which means at present levels, companies can only cover their variable costs but not fixed costs.

“But if they ramp up capacity to nearly 100%, then they should see some profits,” he said, adding that the biodiesel industry has survived because of the local mandate.

Palm oil can be used to produce the bio components of biodiesel grades sold at retail fuel pumps.

Commenting on Indonesia’s B20 biodiesel mandate, Unnithan said Indonesia had taken a smart move by going ahead with the implementation, provided it can get its subsidy model to work.

“I think it’s a smart move because all of a sudden, an additional three million tonnes of demand a year has surfaced. The Indonesian biodiesel market is probably as big as China’s now and for them, it’s worthwhile because oil prices now are at about US$50 per barrel,” he said.

Malaysia, on the other hand, should implement its B10 programme this year now that CPO prices had adjusted to a new level.

“CPO prices in the region of about RM2,500 to RM2,600 per tonne are sustainable in the long term for both food and fuel. At that level, one can see a steady increase in biodiesel because the additional demand can be taken up when there is additional supply,” noted Unnithan.

Meanwhile, well-known palm oil expert and chairman of LMC International Ltd James Fry found Indonesia’s B20 biodiesel mandate impressive, mainly because it is self-financing and didn’t need Government subsidy, and the export levy charged at US$50 per tonne of CPO has somewhat taken the prices up by more than US$50.

Going forward, Fry thinks Indonesia’s biodiesel mandate is going to be the most important factor in softening the decline in CPO prices later this year.

Fry did not want to disclose the outlook for CPO prices in 2017 as this would be revealed later today during his topic on “Lessons from the latest El Nino and La Nina – The Implications for Prices”.

Fry said the El Nino experienced last year was similar to the El Nino that took place in 1997/1999.

The road to full B20 implementation is a long one and several factors, including a recovery in oil prices, biodiesel exports and logistics will play an important role.

The mandate serves two purposes: lower gasoil demand and hence lower reliance on imports; and support for the biodiesel industry reeling from the effects of low oil prices and Europe’s anti-dumping duties.