Siringan fully supports SEA (Sabah Employers Association)

Posted on : 26-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Siringan Gubat fully supported the founding of Sabah Employers Association (SEA) because it can act as a platform for all employers in the private sector in Sabah.

He said apart from serving and representing all employers in Sabah, SEA can also assist the government both at federal and state levels by providing vital information and inputs as well as feedback when needed, because it would know better on matters and issues concerning employers in the private sector in Sabah.

“SEA should have been formed long ago, because I think it is good for all employers in the private sector in Sabah to have a platform to better serve and represent them at the state and federal levels,” he said when meeting a delegation from SEA, led by its president Datuk Seri Wong Khen Thau, who paid a courtesy visit to his ministry’s office at Wisma Bandaraya here , yesterday.

Siringan also supported that SEA be given a chance to take part in any state and national-level committee that is relevant to the association’s objectives and missions.

During the meeting, Wong also briefed the minister on SEA’s objectives and missions apart from exchanging views with him on matters and issues concerning employers in the private sector and on the situation in the state private sector itself.

Siringan was also pleased to note that SEA is very supportive of the federal and state policies on foreign workers and the Minimum Wage Policy.


Embrace innovation to move forward in digitised world – Raymond

Posted on : 26-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Local

KOTA KINABALU: Corporate bodies, businesses and government departments must embrace change and innovation in order to succeed in this digital world, said Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Raymond Tan Shu Kiah.

Tan, who is also the Minister of Industrial Development, said the Internet and technology have changed business models and the way things were done.

He said organisations needed to catch up with technology or else they would be left behind.

Although adopting new technology could be stressful for the older generation, they had to embrace change for the future of their children and grandchildren, he said.

“There comes a point in time where we need to accept and decide to embrace technology in order to move forward in this digital world,” Tan said when officiating at the closing ceremony of the first National Corporate Innovation Index (NCII) workshop in Sabah here yesterday.

By digitising businesses, Tan said operators would be able to monitor their growth and track the progress.

He said the workshop yesterday, organized by the National Innovation Agency Malaysia (AIM) in collaboration with POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd as venue sponsor and Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) Sabah, aimed to introduce the NCII and providing a template for all organizations, including government agencies and departments.

“It is to encourage change, more effective delivery system, and upscale performance to provide better results.

“The results is not just measured by income or revenue for businesses, but also the ability to serve for government departments.”


Thailand’s largest oil and gas firm plans new Asia investment

Posted on : 24-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

Thailand’s largest oil and gas explorer PTT Exploration and Production Pcl (PTTEP) is planning new investments or an extension of its operations in fields in Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar, it said on Tuesday.

In Thailand, state-owned PTTEP would bid to extend its concession to operate the Bongkot gas field beyond the existing expiry date of 2023, Executive Vice President Yongyot Krongpanich told an investor briefing.

“We are confident that we will win the concession as we have expertise from operating in this field for two decades,” he said, adding the result was expected in the first quarter of 2018.

PTTEP was also in talks for a joint bid with Chevron Group for Thailand’s Erawan gas field concession, but was ready to compete against the U.S. major when the tender opens in September if no agreement for a joint bid was reached, he said.

The existing concession for Erawan, which is now operated by Chevron, expires in 2022.

Yongyot also said PTTEP planned investments in Malaysia and Myanmar, but did not give details.

PTTEP had $4.4 billion cash and had no plans to issue bonds, he said.

PTTEP said earlier this month it was suspending investment in Indonesia after the Indonesian government filed a $2 billion lawsuit against the Thai state-owned energy firm for alleged damage from an oil spill eight years ago.

The firm said it expected an average sale of about 300,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day (BOED) in the second quarter, compared with 304,000 BOED in the first quarter.

Parent firm PTT Pcl, Thailand’s largest energy firm, plans an initial public offering (IPO) in 2018 of its spin-off company, PTT Oil and Retail (PTTOR), Investor Relations Manager Pichin Apiwanaphon told another investor briefing.

PTTOR will include service stations, petroleum products, and lubricant products. It will also oversee non-oil retail businesses such as Café Amazon, the coffee franchise, and Fit Auto, the vehicle maintenance service.

After the IPO, PTT will remain a major shareholder of PTTOR but with less than 50 percent. (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng; Editing by Edmund Blair)


Malaysia’s GDP growth is beyond expectations of many, says Wahid

Posted on : 24-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

SHAH ALAM— Malaysia’s robust economic growth of 5.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2017 is beyond the expectations of many, said Permodalan Nasional Bhd Chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Wahid Omar.

He said the government’s resolve by focusing on the fundamentals has been proven to be the right strategy.

“It is underpinned by broad-base growth in all sectors. I encourage all quarters to play their respective part to grow the economy,” he said.

He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the launch of the National Transformation Programme Annual Report 2016 prepared by the Performance Management Delivery Unit by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, here tonight.

Meanwhile, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the endorsements of international firms such as Forbes, BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the US, reflected investor confidence in the country.

“They ranked Malaysia as the best country for investors in 2017 and a top destination for foreign direct investments among Asian countries,” he said.
He said Malaysia had done well in trade, as well as tourism, this was indicated by the influx of Chinese tourists into the country.

“We need to sustain this momentum, we need to ensure peace and stability as this is one of the hallmarks of Malaysia, our ability to live together in peace and harmony,” he added.


BID-IT (Business in Digital Programme) aids young entrepreneurs

Posted on : 24-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR – SME Bank has launched the Business in Digital Programme (BID-IT) funding programme to assist young entrepreneurs aged between 20 and 35 to expand their small businesses and ventures into the digital and e-commerce platform.

Nineteen companies have been selected to be a part of the initial stage of the overall development programme before receiving funding from SME Bank.

SME Bank Group Managing Director Datuk Mohd Razif Mohd Yunus said the main selection criteria included the use of technology for business development, financing needs and a strong business model.

“This programme is continued yearly to achieve the target following the growing trend among young entrepreneurs doing business through digital platforms,” he told reporters after the launch of BID-IT by Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan here, today.

Mohd Razif said under the programme, SME Bank worked with nine other organisations, namely Cradle Fund Sdn Bhd, Malaysia Global Innovation & Creativity Centre, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, New Entrepreneurs Foundation, Payoneer Inc, Dewan Perniagaan Usahawan Siber Malaysia, Rave Technologies, and Universiti Malaysia Kelantan.

“These organisations act as the selection committee and determine the kind of assistance to be given to the 19 selected companies,” he added.


CIMB bags 5 awards for innovative e-payments solutions

Posted on : 23-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Bank Bhd emerged as the biggest winner at the recently-held Malaysian e-Payments Excellence Awards 2017 (MEEA), after clinching five awards for its contribution to the growth of e-payments in the country.

The five awards it bagged were: Best JomPAY Bank, Best Customer Experience for JomPAY, JomPAY Innovative Award, Best Interbank GIRO (IBG) Bank, and Financial Process Exchange (FPX) Innovative Award.

“CIMB is committed to driving e-payments by providing our customers and the public alternative channels to transact reliably, securely and efficiently at their convenience,” said CIMB group chief executive Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz on the wins.

“We are focused on migrating more businesses and organisations to e-payments by being the key enabler in Malaysia’s journey to embrace a digital economy,” added Zafrul in a statement today.

The awards it secured reflected CIMB’s efforts to increase JomPAY transaction volume and engagement with clients, said the bank.

“The JomPAY Innovative and FPX Innovative Awards are a result of CIMB’s innovative bundling of JomPAY and FPX with other products and services, including the award-winning CIMB EVA app, to provide a comprehensive suite of Cash Management solutions in meeting the evolving needs of customers,” the statement read.

As for being named Best IBG Bank, that was based on the bank’s significant share of IBG transaction volume, strong year-on-year volume growth and high conversion volume from cheque payments to IBG payment, it added.

The MEEA is organised annually by the Malaysian Electronic Clearing Corp Sdn Bhd (MyClear), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank Negara Malaysia that operates Malaysia’s key payment systems and financial market infrastructures.


Palm oil & rubber NKEA (New Economic Area) to pursue new, existing initiatives to enhance productivity

Posted on : 23-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR– The Palm Oil and Rubber New Economic Area (NKEA) will continue to pursue new and existing initiatives to increase productivity and improve the livelihood of stakeholders in the upstream industry, as well as further add value in the downstream.

Under the Palm Oil NKEA for upstream section in 2016, a major initiative driven by the government was the full roll out of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, which saw 122,521 hectares and seven palm oil mills being certified.

Outlining the initiatives in the National Transformation Programme Annual Report 2016 released today, the Performance Management Delivery Unit (Pemandu) said a substantial pipeline had also been built for certification in 2017.

“From 2017 onwards, the MSPO development and certification would be carried out by the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council, even though the Malaysian Palm Oil Board will remain involved in the development of smallholder certification.

“This would ensure streamlined certification processes and demonstrate Malaysia’s commitment to achieving environmental sustainability in palm oil plantations,” said Pemandu in the report.

On the downstream side, integration continues to gain momentum with more new projects in the commercialisation of high-value oleo derivatives, food and health products, as well as clinical trials globally to support the use of palm phytonutrients as health supplements.

“Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, RM280 million worth of grants have been allocated to support these initiatives,” said the report.

As for the Rubber NKEA, it said the focus had been to increase demand, as well as enhance the quality of supply, hence the Malaysian Rubber Board was aggressively exploring new uses of rubber domestically and abroad, especially in the areas of green rubber for transportation and other industrial use.

“This was undertaken in collaboration with stakeholders in the public and domestic sectors to create true demand-driven growth,” said the report.

The report said RM5.129 billion has been allocated to the Palm Oil and Rubber NKEA from 2011 until 2020.

Up until 2016, all allocations have either been spent or committed to be spent on new and existing initiatives, while the remaining funds will be staggered and released in stages until the projected completion of this NKEA in 2020.


RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) to boost growth momentum in region

Posted on : 23-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR-The implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would be a boost to the growth momentum in the region, especially as it involves countries which are among the fastest growing economies in the world.

As such, with the view to push for a conclusion to the RCEP negotiations, the recently held third (RCEP) Intersessional Ministerial Meeting provided its members with political guidance on key outstanding areas , namely goods, services and investment, said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) in a statement today.

Ministers and vice-ministers who attended the meeting had agreed to provide flexibilities to bridge the gaps on issues and challenges faced in achieving consensus on certain elements of the modalities related to goods, services and investment.

“These flexibilities are allowed in the initial stage to cater to the different levels of ambition of the RCEP member countries.

“This does not in any way undermine our commitment to ensure that RCEP remains a quality agreement and commercially beneficial to all parties involved,” said MITI Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The meeting, held in Hanoi, Vietnam on May 21-22, 2017 was attended by ministers and vice-ministers from ASEAN, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, South Korea and India.

It also highlighted to the negotiating partners that in many areas, ASEAN had made substantial levels of commitment and in some instances going beyond any of the current ASEAN+1 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs).

“The willingness of ASEAN to go beyond the existing ASEAN+1 FTA is due to RCEP’s value and its economic significance to ASEAN and the partner countries.

“It also demonstrates ASEAN’s strong commitment to engage with partner countries in creating this mega FTA,” said Mustapa.

The ministers also agreed that some working groups (WGs) such as the WG on Rules of Origin on Trade in Goods should be allowed to meet intersessionally to expedite their work given that the work done and rules developed were highly technical.

“In Hanoi, the ministers achieved some progress in the negotiations and expressed confidence that the negotiations remained on track. It was also one of the Philippines’s deliverables as Chair of ASEAN 2017,” said the ministry.

Since the launch of RCEP negotiations during the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2012, the ministers have been continuously involved in the negotiating process and to date, they have met formally four times and three times intersessionally including the meeting in Hanoi.

Two out of 20 chapters of the RCEP agreement, namely on economic and technical cooperation and the small and medium enterprises had been concluded, while several others were nearing conclusion.

Senior officials would be meeting for the 19th round of negotiations in Hyderabad, India, scheduled on July 19-28, 2017.

Meanwhile, the ministers would be meeting in September 2017 in the Philippines to further review the progress and address any specific issues that remain unresolved and need ministerial guidance.


NTP (National transformation Programme) report: continued innovation increases E&E industry’s competitiveness

Posted on : 23-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : Uncategorized

KUALA LUMPUR– Malaysia’s electrical and electronics (E&E) industry must continue to focus on innovation to increase its competitiveness, especially in light of the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.

“Today’s market landscape is dubbed as ‘Industry 4.0′, and it is characterised by increasing digitisation and interconnection of products, value chains and business models,” said the National Transformation Programme (NTP) Annual Report 2016 released today.

Apart from innovation, the report said efforts must also take into account the current economic and business conditions.

“These include the growing competition from Vietnam and India, as well as, the need for local small and medium enterprises to keep up with multinational corporations,” said the report.

It said the establishment of the Electrical and Electronics Strategic Council (EESC) in 2015 was seen as an important development for the industry, with both the government and private sector working together to lead the direction of the industry.

“The EESC has identified seven sub-sectors for future strategic development and is aligned with the government’s aim to increase high-value activities and exports from the E&E industry,” it said.

The report also said the E&E industry created 117,609 employment opportunities by end-2016, well on track to achieve the target of generating 157,000 jobs by 2020.

It also said since the implementation of NTP in 2010, development in the light-emitting diode sector enabled 11 Malaysian companies to penetrate global markets, with combined sales of RM125.2 million recorded thus far.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, in the same report, said demand in the E&E industry continued to be driven by new Internet-of-Things applications in the sphere of wireless communications and wearable devices.

“We are confident that the existing measures under the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA), together with continued emphasis on innovation, will propel Malaysia towards reaching our goal (of being a high-income nation) for 2020 and beyond,” he added.


MATRADE, MFA (Muar Furniture Association) urge furniture industry to go e-commerce

Posted on : 23-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and Muar Furniture Association (MFA) jointly organised a seminar to promote e-commerce and encourage local furniture companies to penetrate global markets online.

Matrade director of e-Business and Information Technology, Raja Nor Zihan Raja Mohsin, said the seminar was in line with its initiative to promote selected sectors to reach global markets through e-commerce, as highlighted in the National e-commerce Strategic Roadmap.

“Furniture is a highly potential e-commerce sector. Our programme, e-TRADE, offers incentives for local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to start selling globally through the e-marketplaces.

“SMEs must take the opportunity to register for the programme and utilise the benefits. So far, furniture companies in e-TRADE have secured buyers from China, Singapore, Myanmar, Panama and Iraq,” she said in a statement yesterday.

The seminar themed, “Export Opportunities Through e-Commerce For Furniture Industry”, was attended by some 70 MFA members and furniture companies from Johor.

Since January this year, an incentive worth RM5,000 has been provided to qualified companies under the e-TRADE programme to partially cover the listing fee imposed by international e-marketplaces and e-commerce-related services to the companies, Matrade said.

For the first quarter of 2017, exports of furniture recorded a growth of 5.1 per cent as compared to the same period in 2016.

Raja Nor Zihan said 955 companies had joined the e-TRADE Programme since its introduction in October 2014, out of which 111 or 11.6 per cent were from the furniture industry.

Malaysian companies can apply to be an e-TRADE Programme participant through or email their enquiries to


Malaysia expects to generate RM1 billion Astana EXPO 2017

Posted on : 23-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is aiming to secure RM1 billion in trade and investments from the Astana Expo 2017

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Maximus Johnity Ongkili said some 100 private and public sector business players are expected to take part in the expo, scheduled to take place from June 10 to Sept 10.

“We aim to promote cooperation and trade in green energy with Kazakhstan and over 100 participating countries of the Expo 2017,” he said today at a media briefing on the upcoming expo.

The trade balance between Malaysia and Kazakhstan is currently in favour of Malaysia. The trade volume in 2015 was about US$100 million (RM429.5 million) and the figure dropped slightly to US$84 million (RM360.7 million) last year.

Ongkili said Malaysia has an unprecedented opportunity over the next four months to prove to the world that the green energy/technology/growth is in its nature and that the best way to create a Green Future is with Malaysia.

“We have become an emerging market model and we need to use that leadership to prove that an emerging market can drive positive change towards future energy.”

He said Malaysia will have its own pavillion, which carries the theme “Powering Green Growth”. It will allow for business matching sessions and pocket talks will be held based on weekly themes that reflects Malaysia’s strength in various fields of green energy, green technology and the economy.

Malaysia, Ongkili said, is the world’s second best emerging market at providing electricity to business and 8th best among all nations, both developed and emerging.

He said Malaysia produced upwards of 8 Gigawatts of solar potential every year from eight global solar photovoltaic (PV) manufactures that had made Malaysia their manufacturing destination.

“In fact, four of the world’s top 5 largest producers continue to trust Malaysia for its pro-business policies and relatively green infrastructure.

“And my favourite, the World Bank, recently published data that showcases our commitment to a green future. They have benchmarked the world’s leading nations on percentage forest cover.

“For emerging markets, we are number one and fourth amongst the world’s top 100 economies, behind only Finland, Sweden and Japan,” revealed Ongkili.

He also urged Malaysians to inspire a global conversation about future energy and about creating a green future under the hastag #MyButterflyEffect.

“One small action action or social post in this case can cause a large effect in another place. That is what we plan to accomplish. And that is what we will accomplish.

“#MyButterflyEffect is our call call-to-action for all Malaysians to inspire the world for a green future.”


Smart genes’ account for 20 pct of intelligence: Study

Posted on : 23-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International News

PARIS – Scientists on Monday announced the discovery of 52 genes linked to human intelligence, 40 of which have been identified as such for the first time.

The findings also turned up a surprising connection between intelligence and autism that could one day help shed light on the condition’s origins.

Taken together, the new batch of “smart genes” accounted for 20 percent of the discrepancies in IQ test results among tens of thousands of people examined, the researchers reported in the journal Nature Genetics.

“For the first time, we were able to detect a substantial amount of genetic effects in IQ,” said Danielle Posthuma, a researcher at the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam, and the main architect of the study.

“Our findings provide insight into the biological underpinnings of intelligence,” she told AFP.

Most of the newly discovered gene variants linked to elevated IQ play a role in regulating cell development in the brain, especially neuron differentiation and the formation of neural information gateways called synapses.

An international team of 30 scientists combed through 13 earlier studies in which detailed genetic profiles and intelligence evaluations — based on IQ tests — had been compiled for 78,000 people, all of European descent.


Increasingly powerful computers have made it possible to scan and compare hundreds of thousands of genomes, matching tiny variations in DNA with diseases, body types or, in this case, native smarts.

The human genome has some 25,000 genes composed of more than three billion pairing of building-block molecules.

Many of the genetic variations linked with high IQ also correlated with other attributes: more years spent in school, bigger head size in infancy, tallness, and even success in kicking the tobacco habit.

One of the strongest — and most surprising — links was with autism, noted Posthuma.

“Gene variants associated with high IQ are also associated with higher risk of autism spectrum disorder,” she said in an interview.

One gene in particular — SHANK3 — “is a very good candidate for explaining that,” she added.

Conversely, the absence of certain high-IQ genes was more common in people suffering from schizophrenia or obesity.


To challenge their own results, the researchers separately checked the 13 databases they drew from — each had used slightly different IQ tests — against the 52 gene variants to see if the combined match-up between intelligence and genetic profile held up. It did.

They also scanned a very large database that had not been part of their study. Once again, the link held up, though — as expected — with a smaller percentage overlap between with IQ.

Scientists would have to scan millions of genomes to find them all, and the raw data and computing power for doing so is still out of reach, Posthuma explained.

“For intelligence, there are thousands of genes,” she said. “We have detected the 52 most important ones, but there will be a lot more.”

Experts agree that genes probably account for up to half of measured intelligence. But even if scientists could map all the genetic quirks that contribute to being brainy, that might not be enough to predict IQ, much less success in life.

“We are looking at all these genetic effects in isolation,” said Posthuma. “Maybe it’s a certain pattern of genetic variants” — and not just their sheer number — “that makes you more intelligent.”

The other major ingredient for achievement, she added, is exercising one’s quotient of grey matter, however big or small it might be.

If someone with a big genetic endowment “chooses not to put any effort into learning, then that will definitely diminish their chances for achievement,” Posthuma said.


7-eleven first M’sian retailer to accept Alipay

Posted on : 22-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: 7-Eleven Malaysia Bhd is the first retailer in Malaysia to accept the Alipay mobile wallet payment, and looks to attract more Chinese tourists to shop at the convenience store chain.

Chief executive officer Gary Brown said 7-Eleven began accepting Alipay from May 12 and that 94% of the 2,100 stores nationwide had gone “live” with the system.

“All our stores will be able to accept Alipay within the next two days. In China, this payment system is a way of life for shopping, and given the growing number of Chinese tourists here, we are hoping for a high uptake,” he told reporters after the launch of Alipay mobile wallet at 7-Eleven Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpr, on Monday.

The event was launched by Tan Sri Vincent Tan, the founder of Berjaya Corp and majority shareholder of 7-Eleven Malaysia.
Brown said installing the system did not require a huge capital outlay as it can operate with the existing MOL terminal, made possible by 7-Eleven’s strategic partnership with MOL Global Inc, a leading technology provider for in-store payment services.

Senior vice-president of international business for Alipay parent company, Ant Financial Services Group, Douglas Feagin said 2.1 million Chinese tourists visited Malaysia last year and the number is expected to grow to about 3.5 million in 2017.

He said these tourists were already familiar with the payment system’s mechanism and Alipay allowed them to connect with retailers here with information on what was being sold, promotions and store location.

“The number of tourists and merchants will increase and, therefore, economic activity will also improve,” he added.

Meanwhile, Tan, also the majority shareholder of MOL Global, said in Thailand, Chinese tourists spend up to five times more per transaction at 7-Eleven stores via their Alipay mobile wallets compared to the average transaction in Malaysian stores.

“MOL will be an important partner for Alipay to recruit merchants both within and outside the Berjaya Group to widen the payment gateway’s acceptance here.

“We will broaden Alipay’s reach into the Malaysian market by signing up more merchants from various industries. Our next plan is to roll out Alipay in all of the Berjaya Group of companies,” he added.

Berjaya Corp is a leading consumer group, with over 5,000 outlets nationwide and also including Starbucks, Wendy’s, Kenny Rogers, Radioshack, Krispy Kreme and many more.


Asia ministers in push for China-led free trade pact

Posted on : 22-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : International Business

HANOI – Asian trade ministers met Monday to hammer out the terms of a massive China-led pact that has taken center stage as Washington pulls away from regional free trade deals in favor of bilateral agreements.

The 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is poised to become the largest free trade agreement in the world, covering about half of its population.

It notably excludes the United States, which had been leading another regional trade pact — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — until US President Donald Trump abruptly abandoned it in January after calling it a “job killer”.

At a meeting in Hanoi on Monday, the 19th time RCEP negotiators have met, the rhetoric in favor of free trade stood in stark contrast to Trump’s “America First” campaign speeches.

“In the context that protectionism is emerging in a number of major economies in the world, we believe that the conclusion of the RCEP Agreement negotiations will convey a clear and consistent message of the opening-up and economic integration-enhancing policy of the countries in the region,” said Vietnam’s Trade Minister Tran Tuan Anh, who was chairing the meeting.

Apart from Beijing, the planned RCEP pact would group the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations plus India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

The deal has gained attention since the US pullout from the TPP, which was billed as the world’s biggest trade pact when it was signed in February 2016 following years of negotiations.

Under then-US president Barack Obama it was sold to American allies as a unique opportunity to seize the initiative on worldwide trade — and ensure China does not get to dictate global terms of commerce.

On Sunday in Hanoi the 11 remaining TPP nations vowed to resuscitate the deal without the US. They are eager to lock in future free trade and strengthen labour and environmental rights despite the loss of the world’s number one economy.

But Beijing is now keen to use Washington’s rejection of TPP to build enthusiasm for its own deal and increase influence in the region.

RCEP is a more modest deal that prescribes lower and more limited regulatory standards.

China is also pushing a major global infrastructure and investment drive called the One Belt, One Road initiative, which aims to revive ancient land and sea trade routes.


Microfinance in Malaysia benefited over 1 million enterprises

Posted on : 22-05-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National Business

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s microfinance landscape, which has evolved from being government-driven into one with vibrant private sector participation, has benefited more than one million micro enterprises in the country, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

BNM deputy governor Abdul Rasheed Ghaffour said at the turn of the century, the sector’s total outstanding financing stood at US$35mil (RM151mil), and had multiplied by more than 30 times to US$1.2bil (RM5.2bil) in 2016.

“Despite having made significant strides since the 1970s to develop a more inclusive financial system, our work in microfinance is still far from complete.

“Its full potential will not be realised until we observe direct linkages to welfare improvement in the micro segment, and ultimately, its sustainable growth,” he said in his speech at the 2017 Global Symposium on Microfinance in Kuala Lumpur on Monday.
Abdul Rasheed said microfinancing had enabled to improve the previously excluded segment of the society to create their own incomes, build assets and ultimately improve their standard of living.

“With poverty eradication taking centre stage in the global public policy agenda, as outlined in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, the development of microfinance is certainly the most powerful, and it is an important part of Malaysia’s development agenda,” he said.

In 2016, BNM had introduced a comprehensive microfinance framework to promote the development of a sustainable microfinance industry in Malaysia.

“This would give micro entrepreneurs greater access to financing, especially for those with no collateral, supported by simple application procedures, minimal documentation and quick turnaround times,” said Abdul Rasheed.

He said that microfinance was also evolving in the era of unprecedented technological change, adding that adaptability was key for its growth.