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Malaysia, China sign 11 MoUs for future projects

Malaysia and China have signed 11 memorandums of understanding (MoU) to promote future collaboration in the industrial parks of Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP) in the first-ever virtual investment forum held in Malaysia.

It is part of the efforts to expand the industrial park collaboration between the two countries, as well as to explore new opportunities in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) implementation.

The event was jointly organised by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry Malaysia (MITI), the People’s Government of Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park Sdn Bhd and the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park administrative committee.

Titled “Two Countries, Twin Parks: Sharing Opportunities of the RCEP Implementation, Forging Cross-Border Industrial Chains”, the forum was attended by more than 800 Malaysian and Chinese industry leaders from business chambers and associations, government-linked agencies, investment bankers, and small and medium enterprises.

The event also commemorates the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the CMQIP.

In his keynote address, Deputy MITI Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong said, “Over the years, under the ‘Two Countries, Twin Parks’ initiative, both industrial parks have progressed substantially, with MCKIP featuring among the largest foreign direct investment recipient in Malaysia, while CMQIP attracted investments from various parts of the world.”

“More importantly, the collaborations have created substantial spinoffs to the local industries including transport and logistics, retail, port-related services as well as businesses and local community,” he said, adding that Malaysia aspires to enhance the trade and investment ties between MCKIP and CMQIP through industrial collaboration and to replicate the achievements of the “Two Countries, Twin Parks” model.

According to him, Malaysia and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are considering of upgrading the industrial park’s collaboration by expanding the model to various other industrial parks in Malaysia.

“Malaysia and China through the industrial parks are also exploring to adopt the best practices in industrial innovations to value add and increase the economic complexities of Malaysian export products,” he added.

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region VP Cai Lixin, in her remarks, said Guangxi is taking the opportunities to jointly build the New Western Land-Sea Corridor, the leading programme related to the overall development situation, and the Beibu Gulf International Gateway Port, the transfer hub, to expand the high-level opening to the outside world and serving the construction of a closer China-Asean community with a shared future.

“As China and Asean are the largest trading partners of each other and RCEP comes into effect,

Guangxi’s advantages in geography, resource, and policy will be further highlighted, providing a broader stage for all parties, including Malaysia, to deepen cooperation and achieve mutual benefit and win-win results,” she said.

She also noted that the RCEP will provide an opportunity to strengthen the existing bilateral relations and explore new areas of cooperation.

To strengthen investment crossflows between the two corridors, Cai encouraged Malaysian companies to leverage the RCEP agreement and for Chinese companies to use Malaysia as a gateway to Asean market, and likewise, Malaysian companies to utilise Guangxi, further expanding into the huge China market.

Noting that Malaysia will commemorate the 10th anniversary of MCKIP in 2023, Pahang state secretary Datuk Sallehuddin Ishak reiterated that the state will continue to facilitate the operations of MCKIP, including the ongoing construction of the second and third phases of MCKIP which will see the integration of MCKIP with Kuantan Port and East Coast Rail Link.

Source: The Malaysian Reserve

Malaysia, China sign 11 MoUs for future projects

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The tax regime in Malaysia should stay current and continue to be sustainable to attract new domestic and foreign direct investments into the country in the wake of the changing investment landscape posed by Covid-19.

With the easing of pandemic restrictions and declining daily cases of about 2,000, there are signs of a rebound for the Malaysian economy with more businesses being reopened, thus, providing current and sustainable tax incentives that will certainly soothe foreign investor nerves.

“Our tax incentive regime has to be current and continue to be sustainable for the changing (investment) environment.

“We may not want to compete head on with our neighbours, but what is our niche as a country, what kind of investors are we looking at.

“And certainly, incentifying investors through tax incentives, will show we are ‘soothener’ to them,“ Ernst & Young (EY) Malaysia tax leader Farah Rosley said in an interview with Bernama recently.

Malaysia recorded RM306.5 billion worth of approved investments in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors in 2021 — the highest amount of approved investments since 2006, according to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA).

The total foreign direct investment (FDI) and domestic direct investment (DDI) numbers exceeded expectations with a stellar performance in 2021, increasing to 83.1 per cent from 2020.

Farah, who is also president of the Chartered Tax Institute of Malaysia, said Malaysia must also ensure that its tax system is competitive and should continue to develop and improve policies to encourage new domestic and foreign direct investments into the country, whilst retaining existing investments.

She said the additional taxes raised should be earmarked for areas that would improve the ease of doing business and improve the investment ecosystem in the country.

“The economic situation and the requirements in Malaysia are unique and we should not lose out in the competition.

“As a country, we should continue to adopt fiscal policies to encourage economic growth and support businesses, whilst ensuring public policy objectives are achieved,“ said Farah, who has more than 20 years of professional experience in the field of taxation.

Farah said to ensure Malaysia benefits from the investments, investors who are granted tax incentives must comply with various conditions set by the government.

“This would typically include minimum investment and employment levels and the requirement to carry on activities such as research and development and local vendor development,“ she said, adding that Malaysia’s corporate income tax rate is generally at 24 per cent.

Asked how would Malaysia benefit from the global minimum tax to ensure that multinational enterprises (MNEs) would be subject to a minimum 15 per cent tax rate from 2023, Farah said implementing the global minimum tax should in theory increase Malaysia’s tax collection.

Driven by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the global minimum tax is generally to be set at 15 per cent for all multinational groups with revenue exceeding 750 million euro per annum.

The minimum tax aims to ensure corporations pay a fair amount of tax, mitigate the trend of large groups shifting activities and profits to low-tax jurisdictions, and reduce pressure on governments to cut tax rates to attract investments. 

Source: Bernama

Malaysia’s tax regime should stay current, sustainable post-Covid-19 – EY Malaysia

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The economic indicators for the first three months of 2022 stipulate Malaysia’s positive economic outlook in the near future with high mobility foreseen following the opening of international borders, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) said.

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said in addition, the recent Employees Provident Fund (EPF) special withdrawal is expected to increase the demand for goods and services that will stimulate the economy.

“Nonetheless, the on-goings in the global scenario is expected to increase commodities prices which lead to inflation expectation,” he said in a statement today.

“The country’s total trade sustained its robust performance, posting a growth of 17.5 per cent in February 2022, and reaching RM184.8 billion from RM157.3 billion in February 2021,” he said.

Both exports and imports soared 16.8 per cent and 18.4 per cent year-on-year to record RM102.3 billion and RM82.5 billion, respectively, leading the trade surplus to widen by 10.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s total trade maintained its double-digit momentum in March 2022, expanding 27.3 per cent.

Exports rose 25.4 per cent, imports increased by 29.9 per cent and trade balance remained in surplus, up 10.3 per cent.

On sectoral performance, Mohd Uzir noted that following the increase in the Manufacturing Index (5.2 per cent) and Electricity Index (3.9 per cent), the Industrial Production Index (IPI) increased 3.9 per cent in February 2022 compared to the same month of the previous year.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Manufacturing sales value in February 2022 stood at RM131.6 billion, growing 11.2 per cent compared to the previous year.

Reflecting on the country’s labour scenario, he said the continuous economic and social activities that led to the recovery of businesses and revival of the domestic tourism sector have greatly benefitted Malaysia’s labour situation.

“The number of employed persons in February 2022 rose 3.0 per cent to 15.73 million persons. Thus, the employment-to-population ratio increased by 1.1 percentage points to 66.3 per cent in February 2022, higher than in February of the previous year at 65.2 per cent.

“Meanwhile, the unemployment rate improved compared to the previous month to record 4.1 per cent,“ Mohd Uzir said. 

Source: Bernama

Malaysia’s economic indicators for Jan-March 2022 indicate positive outlook: DoSM

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Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Senator Datuk Lim Ban Hong has called on companies from Malaysia and China, particularly from Guangxi, to work closely to deepen supply chain connections in strategic sectors and to expand their respective markets.

Malaysia’s central location in Southeast Asia makes it a perfect regional gateway for Chinese companies to venture into ASEAN, while Malaysian companies can leverage Guangxi to expand into China, he said at the inaugural Malaysia-China (Guangxi) Investment Forum, which focuses on investment expansion and business opportunities through the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) and China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP).

Lim said the government sees further investments materialising through MCKIP and CMQIP, in addition to those arising from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which came into force on March 18, 2022.

Lim said the value of cumulative investments from MCKIP has amounted to RM30.1 billion and this is expected to expand under the RCEP framework.

“We foresee more collaboration between the business communities. The RCEP partnership facilitates and promotes trade,” he said.

Since 2009, China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner and accounted for 18.9 per cent of Malaysia’s total trade in 2021.

“According to trade statistics from China, in 2021 their total trade with Malaysia achieved a record high of US$176.80 billion; on the investment front, 43 manufacturing projects were approved from China, with investments worth US$3.98 billion, generating nearly 14,000 employment opportunities in Malaysia,” Lim said.

The investment forum was held to commemorate MCKIP’s 10th anniversary and the bilateral economic milestone between the two countries.

He said over the years, under the “Two Countries, Twin Parks” initiative, both industrial parks have progressed substantially, with MCKIP among the largest foreign direct investment recipient in Malaysia, while CMQIP attracted investments from various parts of the world.

“These collaborations have created substantial spin-offs (including opportunities) in transport and logistics, retail, and port-related services,” Lim said.

Eleven memorandums of understanding were signed between seven Malaysian companies and their strategic Chinese partners, with a potential investment of RM1.45 billion in MCKIP. 

Source: Bernama

MITI deputy minister calls on Malaysia, China companies to deepen supply chain connections

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Tanjung Kidurong in Bintulu is fast becoming an industrial hotspot in Sarawak, with more large investment influx expected from foreign companies in the petrochemical and medical industries.

The investments in petrochemical, medical and related industries have been spurred by the state government-initiated development of the Petrochemical Hub and Sarawak Medical Innovation and Technology Hub (Smith) there.

Smith is a joint project by Sarawak Economic Development Corp (SEDC), Arrow Medsource Group from the United States and several other global partners.

The project is currently under construction following a ground-breaking ceremony last month.

SEDC is also spearheading the development of the petrochemical hub, which covers some 1,067 acres and catering for vast investment opportunities in the downstream petrochemical industries.

The site of the petrochemical is located about 36km from the Samalaju Industrial Park, which is home to energy-intensive industries like aluminium and ferroalloy smelting plants.

A US-based healthcare company will be investing RM1bil to produce medical products in Smith, according to Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the company is now implementing the first phase project estimated to cost RM200mil, to be followed by another RM800mil investment in the second phase.

“Smith will serve as a vital hub not only for the development of medical manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries in the region and throughout Sarawak, but as an important solution to the global medical supply chain issues.

“It aims to build Sarawak’s strength in medical manufacturing from basic medical supplies to high-end surgical products and equipment,” said Johari after touring state-owned Sarawak Petchem Sdn Bhd’s methanol plant project in Tanjung Kidurong.

The methanol plant, which has a production capacity of 1.7 million tonnes per annum, is expected to come on stream next year.

The plant will receive 160 million standard cubic feet per day of natural gas feedstock from Petroliam Nasional Bhd.

Johari said a hydrogen and ammonia plant, the first in Malaysia, will also be built in the petrochemical hub as Sarawak takes the lead in the green economy in the South-East Asian region.

He said the project’s investors, namely Korea’s Samsung Engineering Co Ltd and Japan’s Sumitomo Corp, will buy the hydrogen to be produced by the plant estimated at 100,000 tonnes a year.

Johari added that the state authorities had also received several other investment proposals in Bintulu, including a second on the petrochemical industry, from new investors.

Johari has said recently that Sarawak offers some US$25bil (RM105.5bil) in investment opportunities in downstream petrochemical industries to the private sector.

He said the development of midstream petrochemical industries, such as methanol, ammonia, hydrogen and polyethylene, would further enhance the state’s existing downstream manufacturing ecosystem and create additional business opportunities.

Johari also announced the construction of an autonomous rail rapid transit (Art) in Bintulu, which is already home to other gigantic projects like the Malaysian Liquified Natural Gas and Shell Middle Distillate Synthesis plant, to ease travel between the town and the industrial hubs of Tanjung Kidurong.

Johari, who is also Bintulu Development Authority’s chairman, said special funds have been set aside to fund the development of the Art project, the second after Kuching (to be implemented) within five years.

Source: The Star

Influx of foreign investments in Bintulu

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The government will refine the proposals forwarded by the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (NCCIM) aimed especially at strengthening domestic direct investment (DDI), the most important element to revive the economy, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

DDI, along with the empowerment of local authorities’ one-stop centres, were the key matters discussed at the third Economic Action Council meeting this year, he said.

The Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department, the Finance Ministry, and the International Trade and Industry Ministry will refine the proposals, he said.

“The country which is currently in the transition to the endemic phase and DDI are the most important elements in economic recovery,” he said in a press statement today.

Other proposals from NCCIM include conducting studies on initiatives to reduce bureaucratic constraints by 50 per cent; perform consolidation and coordination of investment incentives; re-engineering foreign labour management processes as well as preparing action plans to expand the network of small and medium enterprises with foreign direct investment (SMEs-FDI).

“To boost the potential of DDI, the government will continue to be committed to improving the quality of local authority services, especially strengthening the implementation of OSC 3.0 to OSC 3.0 Plus to always be efficient, fast and transparent.

“OSC 3.0 Plus is a complete and uniform procedure based on current laws to regulate and facilitate the development process in local authority areas until the building is eligible to be occupied using fully digital applications in all 98 local authorities in Peninsular Malaysia,” he said.

The improvement is through the introduction of the OSC 3.0 Plus Online System with emphasis on ‘teach in’ aspects, complaints management and stakeholder engagement sessions including the development of a digital one-stop licensing centre mechanism.

Ismail Sabri also said that the country’s economic recovery process is now at its best and the government is committed to ensuring that DDI continues to be stimulated by taking an approach to simplify the affairs of industry players.

“The government always listens to suggestions from all parties for the well-being of Keluarga Malaysia,” he added.

Source: Bernama

Govt to boost domestic direct investment for economic recovery, says PM Ismail Sabri

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Malaysia and Thailand are committed to strengthening their cooperation with regard to trade, investment and tourism to spur postCOVID-19 economic recovery in both countries, amidst the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and global inflationary pressures.

Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the Russian invasion of Ukraine has hampered Malaysia and Thailand’s postCOVID economic recovery as it had led to a surge in the prices of various commodities, especially oil, gas and grains.

He noted that the World Bank had lowered its annual global growth forecast for 2022 from 4.1 per cent to 3.2 per cent, while the International Monetary Fund had also downgraded its outlook for the world economic growth from 4.4 per cent to 3.6 per cent this year.

He said the United States’ inflation climbed to 8.5 per cent in March, while the Euro area annual inflation also hit another record high of 7.5 per cent in the same period due to the war in Ukraine.

The global environment continues to be very challenging, stoking concerns that higher inflation will spread to other parts of the world, putting pressure on budgets in terms of subsidies, added Mustapa.

“In the context of Malaysia and Thailand, we should step up trade and tourism (cooperation).

“Tourism is a big business; if the tourism sector recovers faster, it will help facilitate economic growth,” he told Bernama during his two-day working visit to Bangkok, Thailand which ended on Saturday.

On Friday, Mustapa had met with Thailand’s Finance Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith and Secretary-General of National Economic and Social Development Council, Danucha Pichayanan to discuss economic development post-COVID-19 as well as infrastructure projects along the Malaysia-Thailand borders.

On another note, the minister had  welcomed Thailand’s move to scrap  the RT-PCR test for fully-vaccinated international arrivals starting May 1, and added that Malaysia will also announce further relaxation of the standard operating procedures soon.

“The easing of travel restrictions will boost tourism flows and stimulate economic growth, but it will take some time to return to pre-COVID levels,” he said.

According to  Tourism Malaysia and the Malaysian Immigration Department, Malaysia received 1,884,306  visitors from Thailand in 2019, but the number had plummeted to 394,413 in 2020 and plunged even further to 59,607 in 2021.

Mustapa said  Thailand is  Malaysia’s sixth-biggest trading partner in the world and its second-largest in ASEAN, with a trade value of RM98 billion in 2021, while Malaysia is Thailand’s fourth-largest trading partner in the world.

During his visit, Mustapa was taken on a tour of the TRUE Digital Park, Southeast Asia’s largest tech and startup hub in Phra Khanong, Bangkok.

He had also met up with the Malaysian-Thai Chamber  of Commerce (MTCC), as well as representatives from CIMB Thailand and Charoen Pokphand Group Company Ltd.

To date, there are 1,000 Malaysian companies operating in various sectors, including manufacturing, banking, aviation and other services in Thailand.

From 2017 to 2021, Malaysian companies’ investments in Thailand stood at RM4.94 billion, while Thailand companies’ investments in Malaysia stood at RM2.19 billion.

Key players  include  CIMB, AirAsia, Petronas, RHB Bank, AAPICO Hitech Plc and Subsidiaries,  Charoen Pokphand (CP) Malaysia, Kemaman Oil Corporation Sdn Bhd, Energy Oleochemicals and Bintulu Fertilizer.

In February, Malaysia and Thailand reaffirmed their commitment to promote bilateral trade and investment; working closely to achieve the bilateral trade target of US$30 billion by 2025.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia, Thailand committed to deepen cooperation to spur economic recovery

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The Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities is committed to encouraging participation from companies, as well as investors from Egypt and Qatar to take advantage of the Kedah Rubber City facilities and tap the potential markets in ASEAN.

This is following a recent ministerial mission to Egypt and Qatar led by Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin to identify potential markets and partnership opportunities for the rubber sector in the Middle East and ASEAN.

“Companies and investors from these two regions could explore the possibility of forming a partnership with Malaysian companies in the rubber sector, such as in rubber products manufacturing.

“For example, Qatar could explore the possibility of forming a partnership, particularly in tyre manufacturing as Malaysia is currently importing tyres worth more than RM2 billion (US$830 million), hence, the government is very much supporting tyre manufacturing,” she said in a statement today.

Zuraida said investors could leverage Malaysia’s position as one of the world’s main exporters of rubber products and the free-trade agreement between Malaysia and other ASEAN countries (AFTA) where most rubber products have zero import tariff.

In 2021, Malaysia exported rubber products worth US$15.9 million to Qatar, reflecting a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 110 per cent from 2019 to 2021.

Rubber gloves were the main products exported to Qatar from Malaysia with 70 per cent market share and export value of US$14.4 million, while other rubber products exported included hoses, seals, dock fenders, and footwear.

Source: Bernama

Govt woos investors from Egypt, Qatar for rubber sector – Zuraida

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Investment Management Centre (InvestPerak), an agency under the Perak state government, is confident of securing the same investment value recorded in 2021 of RM6 billion or more for this year.

Of the total targeted investment value, almost 30 per cent has been identified by the agency to be invested in the electronics and electrical sector, engineering, logistics and new sectors including the drone industry and vertical farming in the state, said chief executive officer (CEO) Izran Abdullah.

“We see huge potential for the drone industry as it (the value) can go up to billions in future. 

“From our current pipeline, there are a few big projects which will materialise within this year which include companies that produce the electronic and electrical components as well as rubber gloves driven by higher demand for these products globally,” he said after the media briefing on Unlocking the Potential of Perak here today.

The briefing was jointly organised by Kumpulan Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Perak (PKNP), InvestPerak, MajuPerak Holdings Bhd with the assistance of Rahim & Co International Sdn Bhd. 

Izran said the agency sees the RM6 billion target value this year as achievable, driven by the availability of land, facilitation, incentives as well as with the constant engagements and follow-ups with potential investors.

He also noted that for 2021, the investment value breakdown were—RM4 billion coming from foreign investors, — while the remaining RM2 billion were domestic investors.

Meanwhile, MajuPerak CEO Nizran Noordin said the group, which is predominantly involved in residential housing development, intends to expand its development strategy by taking advantage of the current strong growth in the industrial market.

“As part of our long-term strategy, we have identified three strategic parcels of industrial land in Kanthan, Ipoh, measuring 190.20 hectares, which is believed to have the potential to be developed into high-end, modern industrial parks, namely the Silver Valley Technology Park 2 (SVTP 2).

“We believe this strategy represents a solid economic growth and development potential and we want to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said.

Nizran said some established industrial organisations such as YTL Cement, Hume Cemboard and Scientex Great Wall have chosen to be located at the SVTP 2.

“The appointment of Rahim & Co as our consultant and transaction manager to roll out a request for proposal exercise to manage this process and assist in identifying and negotiating with potential partners that the state (Perak) can work together with to develop these parcels of land,” he added.

SVTP 2, a high-impact project forming part of the Northern Corridor Economic Region under the Strategic Development Plan 2021-2025, aims to become the growth catalyst for high-value manufacturing activities and the digital economy.

Source: Bernama

InvestPerak confident of achieving RM6b or more investment value this year

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Malaysia is working to further boost economic cooperation with Thailand to realise the bilateral trade target of US$30 billion (US$1=RM4.27) by 2025.

This was said by Malaysia’s ambassador to Thailand, Datuk Jojie Samuel who is on a working visit to four southern provinces in Thailand – Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat, starting Tuesday, to witness the economic development in these areas post-COVID-19 era.

“I had an introductory visit to Southern Thailand in 2018. I hope this visit will renew friendship and re-establish the link with the people and business communities here in the post COVID-19 era.

“I hope my visit could enhance the bilateral relations and cooperation with Thailand,” he told Bernama here today.

Meanwhile, Jojie also invited Thai companies and organisations to participate in the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS 2022) to be held in September.

He also urged industry players to strengthen cooperation through more collaboration to enhance the Malaysia-Thailand  border trade.

On Tuesday, Jojie also held engagement sessions with Department of Livestock Development (DLD) and the Songkhla Chamber of Commerce.

Today, Jojie visited the world’s largest condom maker Karex Bhd manufacturing facility in Hatyai, Top Glove Medical Co. Ltd in Sadao and Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services Department (MAQIS) at Bukit Kayu Hitam.

On Thursday, Jojie will pay a courtesy call on Secretary-General of Southern Border Provinces Administrative Centre Rear Admiral Somkeart Ponprayoon in Yala.

He will also pay a familiarisation visit to Chok Udomrat Crab Farm in Pattani on the same day.

He is expected to pay a courtesy call on Narathiwat Governor Sanan Pongaksorn and visit the Friendship Bridge across Sg Golok and Rantau Panjang on Friday.

In February, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who was on a three-day official visit to Thailand, said he and his Thai counterpart Prayuth Chan o-cha both hoped that the third ministerial-level Joint Trade Committee (JTC) meeting could be held as soon as possible.

Thailand remains Malaysia’s sixth biggest trading partner in the world and the second largest in ASEAN. Malaysia is Thailand’s fourth largest trading partner in the world.

Two-way trade between Malaysia and Thailand increased by 23 per cent to RM97.97 billion last year from RM79.63 billion in 2020.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia to further boost economic cooperation with Thailand – Ambassador

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Another record-breaking export print in March has provided continued optimism for Malaysia’s trade-led economic rebound in 2022, economists said.

The 25.4 per cent year-on-year (yoy) export growth last month was a signal that recoveries were gaining ground in the country, they added.

Malaysia’s total trade posted a double-digit growth of 27.3 per cent yoy during the month to reach a new high of RM236.6 billion, the International Trade and Industry Ministry said.

Export and import values in March once again broke the record for all-time monthly highs at RM131.6 billion and RM104.9 billion respectively.

The ministry said the data from Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) showed robust export growth, contributing mainly by solid external demand for electrical and electronic (E&E) products and commodity-based products.

The E&E products soared to a record high in March due to stronger exports of electronic integrated circuits underpinned by growing digitalisation trends.https://81b95c184a8e4e5e9da57738b22cc01f.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“Exports to major markets notably Asean, China, the United States, the European Union and Japan recorded double-digit growth. Highest export monthly value was registered to Asean, the EU and Japan,” the ministry said today.

Bank Islam chief economist Dr Mohd Afzanizam Abdul Rashid said the latest statistical print showed that the country was the direct beneficiaries of the global economic recovery.

“The double-digit growth suggests that the contribution from the net exports are likely to be significant to the first quarter (Q1) 2022 gross development product which will be announced in May,” Afzanizam told the New Straits Times.

Despite that, Afzanizam said Malaysia’s purchasing managers’ index had fallen below the 50 points demarcation line in March. This would mean manufacturers had grown wary over the global growth prospects this year.

“The International Monetary Fund has already indicated that they might want to cut their global GDP growth for 2022 and 2023 lower, which they will announce this week. So it is a question of the sustainability and durability of the recovery.

“For now, it is still fluid but we are hopeful things will get better because of the reopening of the international borders which will support the domestic economy,” he added.

Putra Business School economic analyst Associate Professor Dr Ahmed Razman Abdul Latiff sees Malaysia’s economy firmly on the path to recovery, after recording improvements in its total trade number.

Ahmed Razman said the increase in total trade numbers in March compared to the previous month showed that Malaysia had benefited from better global demand.

“With the higher demand for our commodities such as oil and palm oil, coupled with the continuing Russia-Ukraine crisis which opened up opportunity for our Malaysian producers to keep up with the demand, I foresee that we will see a continuous double digit growth on month to month basis for the rest of the year,” he said.

OCBC Bank economist Wellian Wiranto said the 25.6 per cent expansion in Malaysian exports was miles north of the 10.4 per cent that market had expected and ahead of the 16.8 per cent yoy of February.

“Out-shipment of petroleum products and LNG were up 96.5 per cent and 100.5 per cent, respectively, even as Malaysia continued to benefit from the semiconductors boom, with E&E shipment at 32.8 per cent yoy. On the flip side came imports surprises too, however. Malaysia’s imports came in close to 30 per cent yoy versus 16.4 per cent,” Wellian added.

Elaborating on the trade numbers, the ministry said the rise in imports were noted for E&E products, crude petroleum, petroleum products, chemical and chemical products, machinery, equipment and parts, metalliferous ores and metal scrap and coal.

On a month-on-month (m-o-m) basis, trade, exports, imports and trade surplus recorded double-digit growth of 28.1 per cent, 28.7 per cent, 27.3 per cent and 34.8 per cent respectively.

“Total trade for Q1 of 2022 grew by 23.6 per cent to RM624.86 billion, compared to Q1 2021. Exports increased by 22.2 per cent to RM344.97 billion and imports expanded by 25.2 per cent to RM279.89 billion. Consequently, trade surplus recorded a higher value of RM65.1 billion,” it said.

The ministry added that the rise in exports was attributable mainly to higher exports to Singapore (RM5.1 billion), followed by Japan (RM2.1 billion), South Korea (RM1.8 billion), the EU (RM1.8 billion), China (RM1.7 billion), Taiwan (RM1.4 billion), Thailand (RM1.4 billion), Indonesia (RM1.4 billion), and the United States (RM1.3 billion).

China was a key contributor to the increase in imports, which increased by RM3.4 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia (RM2.9 billion), Taiwan (RM2.8 billion), Indonesia (RM2.5 billion), Singapore (RM2.3 billion), the United States (RM1.4 billion) and Thailand (RM1.2 billion).

Source: NST

Trade-led recovery set to continue

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The Sarawak government will share its experience with several other countries in exploring new forms of economy, with the main goal of guiding the state towards rapid economic development.

Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg said he will give a speech in Singapore next week, before a trip to Rotterdam in the Netherlands in early May.

However, he did provide further details of the events in which he will be speaking.

“Now, other countries have recognised Sarawak’s efforts and have invited me to share my experience with them, while exploring partnership opportunities,” he said.

Abang Johari said this in his speech officiating at Sarawak’s Nuzul Al-Quran celebrations at the An-Nur Mosque here on Monday (April 18) night.

Abang Johari said Sarawak, like other developed countries, should use technology to drive its economy at the highest level based on current fields of knowledge.

Apart from that, Sarawak also sees international efforts to reduce global warming as an opportunity for efforts toward a low-carbon fuel-based economy.

“…Fortunately, Sarawak has already taken the first step in 2017 towards this as soon as I assumed the state leadership,” he said.

Also present at the event was Sarawak Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Toh Puan Raghad Kurdi Taib, Abang Johari’s wife Puan Sri Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang, several Sarawak cabinet ministers and deputy ministers, department heads and local community leaders.

Source: Bernama

Sarawak to share its experience in exploring new forms of economy, says Abang Johari

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The higher prices and rising demand for commodities due to the Russia-Ukraine war, which has threatened the supply of many key production inputs powering the global economy, have begun to show its effect on global macro data, with the trade numbers of Indonesia and Malaysia showing strong uptrend.

OCBC Bank said Malaysian exports, which came in at 25.4 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in March, were “miles north of the 10.4 per cent that the market had expected and ahead of the 16.8 per cent in February.”

“Out-shipment of petroleum products and liquefied natural gas (LNG) were up 96.5 and 100.5 per cent, respectively, even as Malaysia continued to benefit from the semiconductors boom, with electronics and electrical (E&E) shipment at 32.8 per cent y-o-y,” it said in a research note today.

Indonesia’s export growth of 44.36 per cent y-o-y “easily surpassed the market expectation of around 25 per cent growth and bested the February print of 34 per cent uptick,” while mining exports jumped 143.9 per cent in March, bolstered by a surge in demand for commodities such as coal, palm oil, tin, and nickel.

“On the flip side came import surprises too, however. Malaysia’s imports came in close to 30 per cent y-o-y versus 16.4 per cent, while Indonesia’s print was at 30.85 per cent vs an expected 18.5 per cent.

“This is a signal that recoveries are gaining ground in both countries. Still, the price factor featured too, especially for Indonesia, which is a major importer of wheat and soybean, not to mention oil, as well,” it said.

OCBC said the strength of exports helped to cover the effect of rising imports, with trade balances squarely in the surplus territory for both.

“This matters especially for Indonesia, which would be looking to keep its current account deficit as contained as possible to minimise the effect from the tightening of the screw that is the US Federal Reserve rate hike cycle,” it said.

Source: Bernama

OCBC Bank: Rising demand for commodities gives Malaysian exports a boost, but imports increasing too

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Malaysia’s total trade recorded a double digit growth of 27.3 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in March 2022 to reach a new high of RM236.6 billion, the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) said.

Export and import values in March once again broke the record for all-time highs at RM131.6 billion and RM104.9 billion, respectively.

Chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said Malaysia’s imports surpassed the RM100 billion mark for the first time ever, in line with the surge in intermediate goods, signifying a positive sign of domestic economic activity.

He said trade surplus widened by 10.3 per cent from RM24.2 billion in the preceding year to RM26.7 billion, marking the 23rd consecutive months of trade surplus since May 2020.

“Malaysia’s exports accelerated by 25.4 per cent from RM105.0 billion to RM131.6 billion, surpassing the RM100 billion mark for the seventh consecutive month since September 2021.

“Export value growth in March 2022 was supported by both domestic exports and re-exports. Domestic exports were valued at RM106.9 billion, contributing 81.2 per cent to total exports, picking up strongly by 22.8 per cent y-o-y.

“Meanwhile, re-exports amounted to RM24.7 billion, expanded by 38.0 per cent compared to March 2021,“ he said in a statement, today.

Mohd Uzir said along with the export performance, imports also registered a strong growth of 29.9 per cent from RM80.8 billion to RM104.9 billion.

“In comparison to February 2022, the performance of total trade, exports, imports and trade surplus showed the increases of 28.1 per cent, 28.7 per cent, 27.3 per cent, and 34.8 per cent, respectively.

“An outstanding annual growth in exports was portrayed in 166 out of 255 commodity groups, showing increases compared to the same month of the previous year, led by thermionic valves and tubes. As for imports, 186 of 259 groups posted a positive growth,” he added.

Mohd Uzir said the rise in exports was attributable mainly to higher exports to Singapore (+RM5.1 billion), followed by Japan (+RM2.1 billion), South Korea (+RM1.8 billion), the European Union (+RM1.8 billion), China (+RM1.7 billion), Taiwan (+RM1.4 billion), Thailand (+RM1.4 billion), Indonesia (+RM1.4 billion), and the United States (+RM1.3 billion).

On top of that, he said China was a key contributor to the increase in imports, which increased by RM3.4 billion, followed by Saudi Arabia (+RM2.9 billion), Taiwan (+RM2.8 billion), Indonesia (+RM2.5 billion), Singapore (+RM2.3 billion), the United States (+RM1.4 billion), and Thailand (+RM1.2 billion).

Mohd Uzir noted that the expansion of export was driven by electrical and electronics products (+RM13.0 billion); petroleum products (+RM4.6 billion); palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products (+RM3.1 billion); liquefied natural gas (+RM2.5 billion); crude petroleum (+RM1.6 billion); and palm oil-based manufactured products (+RM1.1 billion).

Meanwhile, the rise in imports were noted for electrical and electronics products (+RM7.1 billion); crude petroleum (+RM6.1 billion); petroleum products (+RM3.0 billion); chemical and chemical products (+RM2.2 billion); machinery, equipment and parts (+RM1.6 billion); metalliferous ores and metal scrap (+RM1.2 billion); and coal (+RM1.2 billion).

On the performance for the first quarter of 2022, the DOSM said total trade, exports, imports, and trade surplus continued to record strong double-digit growth.

It said the total trade went up by 23.6 per cent, supported by the expansion in exports (+22.2 per cent), as well as imports (+25.2 per cent). Consequently, trade surplus recorded a higher value of RM65.1 billion. 

Source: Bernama

Malaysia’s total trade soars to new high of RM236.6bln in March: DOSM

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Malaysia on Monday expressed support for South Korea’s bid to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Yonhap news agency reported, quoting Seoul’s trade ministry.

Malaysia’s Senior Minister and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali has voiced support for Seoul’s envisioned entry into the mega free trade deal in the Asia-Pacific region during a virtual meeting with South Korea’s Trade Minister Yeo Han Koo.

Last week, South Korea announced its decision to join the pact and is working to submit an application this month.

“The Malaysian minister welcomed South Korea’s planned application for the CPTPP membership and shared his country’s ratification procedures for the agreement,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a release.

The CPTPP involves 11 nations, including Malaysia, Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico and Vietnam, and it accounted for around 15 percent of the world’s total trade volume of US$5.2 trillion as of 2020.

So far, seven out of the 11 member nations, including Malaysia, Canada, Australia and Vietnam, have voiced support for Seoul’s push to win the membership. The four nations who haven’t done so are Japan, Singapore, Chile and Peru.

During the meeting, the two sides also exchanged opinions on the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which the United States (US) has sought to launch in the Asian region amid an intensifying Sino-US rivalry.

Yeo told the Malaysian side that South Korea “is positively reviewing” the participation in the framework, as the platform is expected to help strengthen the region’s economic competitiveness and achieve sustainable growth, according to the ministry.

He also voiced hope for enhanced cooperation with Malaysia in supply chains, clean energy and other issues within the framework and via various other cooperation mechanisms.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia drums up support for S Korea’s bid to join CPTPP

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Malaysia has emerged as the leading nation that best-supports the multi-trillion dollar global Islamic economy, according to DinarStandard in its State of the Global Islamic Economy Report 2022.

Malaysia also continues to remain in the top spot in the overall rankings for the ninth consecutive year.

It is followed by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Indonesia.

The report’s Global Islamic Economy Indicator Score ranks Malaysia in the top spot in four out of six sectors, namely Muslim-friendly travel, Islamic finance, halal food as well as Media and Recreation.

The country was second and ninth in the pharma and cosmetics and modest fashion respectively.

In terms of Muslim-friendly travel, Malaysia was included in the top five Muslim travel destination countries, alongside Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Iran.

“Alhamdulillah, Malaysia is on the right track in preparing the tourism industry players for the burgeoning Muslim tourist market. During the pandemic, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac), through its agency, Islamic Tourism Centre (ITC) has ramped up efforts to train and upskill tourism industry stakeholders to understand and cater to this market with its unique faith-based needs,” said Motac Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri.

“ITC has supported the industry by developing standards and guidelines to strengthen the Muslim tourism and hospitality service delivery. Islamic Tourism ecosystem and the Muslim-Friendly Tourism and Hospitality branding are the way forward as we safely reopen Malaysia’s borders to new and returning visitors,” she said in a statement yesterday.

ITC said in the same statement that Malaysia’s strengths in this area were attributed to ease of travel and public awareness.

In the report, Malaysia topped two of the five government benchmark dimensions, specifically in governance that focuses on travel rules and regulations, and awareness, referring to media coverage and stakeholder training.

“In championing Islamic Tourism, one of the narratives we use to drive industry interest is that Islamic tourism strengthens business growth, environmental awareness and protection, tolerance, integration, cultural and heritage appreciation and more,” says ITC DG Datuk Dr Mohmed Razip Hasan.

The State of the Global Islamic Economy Report is an annual publication released by DinarStandard in partnership with Salaam Gateway, an Islamic economy news and media platform, supported by the Dubai Economy and Tourism Department.

Source: The Malaysian Reserve

Malaysia remains top in global Islamic economy

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The transition to the endemic phase and the reopening of Malaysia’s borders have clearly provided a positive impact on the national economy compared to the pandemic phase two years ago, Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Economy) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said.

“Purchasing power has risen, if we go to any shopping complex, shopping mall, we find people have started to come out to conduct business activities and to make purchases. Borders have been reopened, the international economy has, to a certain extent, gone up.

“Our economy is recovering, except for external risks, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, which is challenging the world economy, including hikes in the prices of commodities, such as maize and oil, which we have to face,” he told reporters after launching a fire prevention programme in conjunction with Aidilfitri celebrations at Bukit Bunga, here today.

Bernama had previously reported that the Malaysian economy was expected to strengthen this year as the country entered the transition to the endemic phase, which commenced with the reopening of the international borders.

The National Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was forecast to expand by 6.0 per cent for this year (as compared to 3.1 per cent in 2021) while the GDP in the first quarter was expected to record a growth of 5.0 – 6.0 per cent (2021: – 0.5 per cent).

Mustapa, who is also Jeli MP, said the presence of tourists from abroad was expected to go up (only) in 2025 or 2026.

“The exit-entry movement (of the tourism sector) is still limited. The influx of tourists impacts on the national economy greatly such as shopping, transportation and hotel.

“But, domestic tourism is seen to have gone up, people are travelling domestically and we are confident this will continue,” he said.

On April 1, the government announced the transition to the endemic phase as well as the reopening of the country’s borders. 

Source: Bernama

Transition to endemic phase, border reopening help boost national economy, says minister

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The National Rehabilitation Council (MPN) is confident that the country’s economic recovery process will resume in the next few months following the reopening of the country’s borders on April 1, said its chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said the simplified standard operating procedures (SOPs) for travellers would encourage more tourists to visit.

He said it was understood that 50 airlines had returned to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and it was a good sign.

“Thus far, the number of visitors is over 250,000 but it is still lower than the target. After the country is closed to the world for so long, we cannot expect it to rise in two weeks,” he told the media after inspecting the situation at KLIA here today.

Muhyiddin said it would take at least two years for the economy to be where it was before.

He said the tourism sector, which contributed RM80 billion to the country a year, was among the worst affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and a briefing would be held with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture (Motac) to look into the sector’s recovery process which would take at least three years to resume its peak.

Source: Bernama

MPN confident economic recovery in full swing soon

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Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim today witnessed the signing of five memorandum of understandings (MOUs) between Labuan Corporation and several business establishments and a public university.

Shahidan said the MOUs with Universiti Malaysia Sabah Labuan International Campus (UMSKAL) was to bring in foreign students.

“We want to realise Labuan’s vision to turn the island into a tourism education hub as it is strategically located within ASEAN,” he told reporters at Dorsett Grand Hotel here today.

He said the MOUs with UW Global Incorporated and European Credit Investment Bank Ltd were aimed to attract foreign and local investors to develop the local investment and financial related sector.

Shahidan said the Labuan Corp-IFC Capital Bhd MOU involved Labuan’s development.

He said Labuan Corp, being the local authority, also signed an MOU with Tan Lan Holdings (M) Sdn Bhd regarding food supply to Labuan.

The last MOU was signed with GIA Technology Ltd regarding a blockchain data centre.

Source: Bernama

Five MoUs inked in Labuan on education and investments

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Selangor continued to receive the highest number of manufacturing projects and created the highest employment opportunities in Malaysia despite 2021 being a challenging year, according to Invest Selangor.

In a statement on Wednesday (April 13), Invest Selangor said 247 investment projects and 14,393 employment opportunities were secured last year.

Since 2017, Selangor has been in the forefront annually, and received a total of 1,329 investment projects with a total capital investment of RM67.5 billion, it added.

“In addition to the unpredictability nature of the pandemic and delayed economic growth, the lack of the state’s promotional missions and engagement sessions overseas due to the closing of international borders, compounded to a comparatively lower foreign direct investment in 2021.

“Over 60% of Selangor’s total investment in 2021 was attributed by expansion activities, signalling strong confidence among investors in the matured supply chain and robust business ecosystem in the state.

“Some notable projects included the expansion projects from Hartalega, Top Gloves, Duopharma and Datasonic domestically, and Denso and Wistron internationally,” it said.

Based on statistics from the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), Selangor received a total of RM7.5 billion of investment in the manufacturing sector in 2021, contributed mainly by domestic direct investment (DDI), with an investment value of RM6.1 billion.

Meanwhile, Selangor drew RM7.5 billion worth of investment in the manufacturing sector last year, which largely comprised DDI of RM6.1 billion, according to MIDA’s figures.

“Investment projects in rubber, chemical, electrical and electronics and transport equipment sectors were among the top industries, contributing to 71%, valued at RM5.36 billion, of the total investment value. The focus industry cluster remained as the largest contributor to the approved investment value,” it said.

Since 2017, Selangor has received RM31.1 billion (46% from total investment in the manufacturing sector for 2017-2021), while maintaining DDI at an average RM6 billion annually.

“Moving forward, Selangor will continue to focus on attracting high value and impactful projects to both potential domestic and foreign investors and to create high quality employment opportunities for its over 6.5 million population,” it shared.

Source: The Edge Markets

Selangor drew most investment projects in Malaysia for fifth straight year in 2021, says Invest Selangor

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Standard Chartered said Malaysia has been named as the top expansion market for Middle East companies focusing on ASEAN.

The bank said the latest survey for its Borderless Business: Middle East-ASEAN Corridor found that Middle East companies are positive about business growth in the region – and a significant 78 per cent viewed Malaysia as the top location.

Key growth sectors for Malaysia in the report’s growth watchlist that are attractive to Middle East companies are refining and petrochemicals, renewable energy and retail and consumer goods.

Malaysia has established integrated petrochemical zones that offer centralised utilities, storage services and a comprehensive transportation network, to help reduce capital and operations costs for companies.

It has also emerged as a major hub for solar photovoltaic (PV) production and is a key market for halal goods as it works towards building a stronger halal ecosystem between ASEAN and the Middle East.

Standard Chartered said all surveyed Middle East companies expect business growth over the next 12 months, with over 80 per cent of them projecting an annual increase in both revenue (82 per cent) and production (81 per cent) of over 10 per cent.

A similar sentiment is shared in another survey conducted in the Borderless Business: India-ASEAN Corridor survey, where Malaysia is tied with Singapore as the top three most preferred destination among Indian companies looking at expansion in ASEAN.

Key growth sectors in the report’s growth watchlist that are drawing Indian companies to Malaysia are digitalisation, renewable energy and electric vehicles (EV).

India-based technology companies have made inroads into Malaysia as part of the national MyDIGITAL initiative and the country’s response to the pandemic that included measures to boost digital payments and e-commerce.

Malaysia has also emerged as a major destination for the manufacturing of PV systems among Indian firms.

As ASEAN governments start offering incentives and building support infrastructure to facilitate growth, such as Malaysia’s tax incentives to EV buyers under its National Automotive Policy (NAP 2020), new economy Indian companies have expressed plans to expand their footprint in Southeast Asia in the coming years.

All respondents expect their business to increase production in ASEAN while more than 90 per cent of them project growth in revenue (93 per cent) over the next 12 months.

Standard Chartered said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is also expected to attract more investments into the 10-nation bloc from both corridors.

All Middle East respondents agreed that the ratification of the RCEP agreement will lead to more investments from their companies, while some 63 per cent of Indian respondents indicate that their companies will increase investments in ASEAN over the next three to five years.

Source: Bernama

Standard Chartered: Malaysia is the top market for expansion among Middle East firms

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Malaysia’s economy is expected to strengthen this year as the country transitions to the endemic phase, starting with the reopening of international borders.

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth is projected to be around six per cent (2021:3.1 per cent) for the year, and the first-quarter GDP is likely to record a growth of five to six per cent (2021:-0.5 per cent).

Sunway University professor of economics Dr Yeah Kim Leng said the growth momentum will be supported by stronger private consumption and investments amidst more positive sentiments and overall outlook.

“The resource-based and commodity sectors, particularly palm oil, rubber and oil and gas (O&G) are expected to thrive on the back of high prices,” he told Bernama.

The electrical and electronics sector would also continue to benefit from strong export demand as the global electronics supply remain constrained, while the services sector (including the import and export of services) is also expected to see stronger demand this year with the reopening of the economy.

Yeah said the country’s transition into the endemic phase will have a positive spillover effect on various industries.

“The aviation, hospitality and tourism-related industries are expected to emerge from their two-year doldrums and chart better performance as firms rebuild their balance sheets,” he said, adding that it would also be a shot in the arm for the retail sector.

Additionally, the lifting of border restrictions would also facilitate cross-border business activities, trade and investment-related services, as well as mergers and acquisitions activities.

Meanwhile, Yeah said although Malaysia is not directly impacted by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the disruptions to global energy and commodity markets, coupled with higher risk aversion would have mixed short term effects on the country’s inflation, export earnings and financial markets.

He noted that the second-round negative effects on global growth would dampen the external outlook for Malaysia’s highly open economy.

“Both commodity and financial markets will see increased volatility although the higher commodity prices – including O&G – will be positive for Malaysia’s export earnings and further widen its current account surplus.

“While short-term foreign portfolio inflows may increase due to diversification of geopolitical risk in favour of the Malaysian markets, the market swings are likely to be elevated since geopolitical, growth and policy risks abound in the current environment,” he said.

Moving forward, the country’s strong economic outlook will also help to boost the ringgit, which is projected to strengthen to 4.10 against the US dollar from 4.17 last year despite heightened uncertainty, said Kenanga Research

The research house said it is cautiously bullish on the local note, but noted that the ringgit may continue to trade under pressure in the next few months due to the volatile market environment brought about by the Eastern Europe crisis, China’s stringent pandemic-control measures and the United States Federal Reserve’s increasingly hawkish tone.

On the overnight policy rate, it said Bank Negara Malaysia might raise the lending rate in the third quarter of 2022 after major economic indicators point to a sustainable recovery.

“The reopening of Malaysia’s international borders on April 1, coupled with the central bank’s continued accommodative policy stance, is seen to prop up economic growth in the second half of the year,” it said in a note recently.

Source: Bernama

Economist : Transition to endemic status a boost to economy

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Sabah and Japan can explore several sectors which both countries can work together in, said Japan’s ambassador to Malaysia, Takahashi Katsuhiko.

Among the sectors that have potential for cooperation are agriculture, manufacturing and energy, he said.

Takahashi, when speaking to The Borneo Post during his maiden visit to Sabah since being appointed Ambassador to Malaysia, said the visit was to conduct courtesy calls on state government leaders and Head of State Tun Juhar Mahiruddin.

“During the courtesy call on the Head of State and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Hajiji Noor, we talked about bilateral economic relations and spoke about opportunities for Sabah to work closely with Japan.

“I really felt the eagerness from the leaders of Sabah that they want to have stronger economic relations with Japan. They mentioned several sectors like agriculture, energy and manufacturing. The discussion was relatively general but we identified possible areas of cooperation,” said Takahashi.

He added that he promised the state leaders that his office will continue to provide investment information about Sabah to interested Japanese investors.

“I advised the Sabah government to try to reach out to possible investors in Japan, especially after the Covid-19 SOP is relaxed. Japan still has restrictions enforced but we are expecting it to be relaxed in accordance with the Covid-19 situation in the country and this will facilitate the movement of the people between Japan and Malaysia,” he pointed out.

Takahashi also spoke about the 40th anniversary of Malaysia’s Look East Policy (LEP) and how it has benefitted Malaysians in general.

According to him, as a result of the 40 years effort more than 26,000 Malaysians have studied or trained in Japan under LEP.

They returned to Malaysia and contributed to the development of the country economically and socially, he said.

Takahashi pointed out that having Japanese speaking Malaysians in the country facilitated in attracting Japanese companies to do business here, adding that there are 1,500 Japanese companies doing business in Malaysia.

“LEP contributed to the development of Malaysia and the same can be said for Sabah and Sarawak as there are Sabahans and Sarawakians who studied or trained in Japan under the LEP,” he said.

Takahashi disclosed that there are 440 Japanese living in Sabah and Sarawak and about 60 companies are doing business here.

He said that in conjunction with LEP’s 40th anniversary, the Embassy of Japan will be organising some events and one of the upcoming ones is a photo exhibition by the Japan Foundation at the Sabah Art Gallery scheduled from April 18 to May 18.

“This is the 40th anniversary of the policy therefore it is really a good opportunity for us to review what we have achieved together in the past 40 years and to discuss what we should do to enhance our bilateral relations further.

“Enhancing bilateral relations will mean more opportunities for Sabah and Sarawak because the states are part of Malaysia. We pay attention to the two states in the past and we will continue to do so,” he stressed.

Takahashi also said that the Japanese government’s volunteer program was suspended due to the Covid-19 outbreak but it is now preparing for the possibility of dispatching volunteers once again to Sabah and Sarawak to help out in areas like agriculture or sustainable development.

On the issue of tourism and the progress the sector will see with the country’s borders opened up, Takahashi said that a lot of people want to travel once the normalcy comes back.

“After the news of Malaysia opening up its borders was made, we have heard from some Japanese from the business sector indicating their interest to visit Malaysia and vice versa.

“In 2019 about 400,000 Japanese visited Malaysia while about 500,000 Malaysians visited Japan and the Japanese tourism sector is being upgraded in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, so the facilities would be available once we open our borders. We are looking forward to receiving Malaysia travellers to Japan,” said the Ambassador.

Takahashi said he felt encouraged by the eagerness of the Sabah Head of State, Chief Minister and state government to have a stronger relationship with Japan.

He is also very happy that they appreciate the good relations maintained between Japan and Sabah.

“We are in a good situation but at the same time we need to continue with our efforts to further enhance the bilateral relationship. I mentioned to the Sabah chief minister that tourism is one area we can do this, transfer of technology or expertise is another way and of course if we can see more investment coming from Japan to Sabah it will be a good thing.

“We agreed to continue to cooperate with each other and confirming this sense of cooperation during the meeting was really important for me, therefore I can go back to Kuala Lumpur with a new resolve that I need to continue working for Sabah,” he said.

Takahashi when asked for his personal take on Sabah, described the state as a place for eco-tourism as it has a rich diversity of wildlife.

“And the people of Sabah are open minded and welcoming. Even in my short stay I enjoyed interacting with Sabahans. I need to come back and see more and I am looking forward to it,” he said.

He added that he will be recommending to his nature loving friends to visit Sabah, especially those who want to climb Mount Kinabalu and see the wildlife the state has to offer.

Takahashi also disclosed that more information about the programs for LEP’s 40th anniversary will be posted on the Japan embassy’s website, Facebook page and his official Twitter account.

Source: Borneo Post

Sabah, Japan can explore working together in agriculture, manufacturing and energy sectors, says envoy

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The East Coast Economic Region Development Council (ECERDC) is optimistic of achieving a higher investment target of RM1.8 billion for the state of Kelantan this year.

Chief executive officer Baidzawi Che Mat said that with the target, it is expected to create more than 1,200 new jobs and 300 entrepreneurial opportunities.

He said ECERDC is confident that the target could be achieved with the Kelantan special tax incentive package which had been approved by the Finance Ministry.

“As of March 31, ECERDC has already attracted committed investments amounting to RM990 million to Kelantan. Under the Kelantan Special Incentive, eligible investors will enjoy 100% income tax exemption for 15 years with an extension of another five years at a special rate of 17%.

“For non-citizen employees who hold senior management positions, they will only be charged a flat tax rate of 15% as an additional incentive to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) to Kelantan,” he said in a statement here today.

Baidzawi said ECERDC under the Tok Bali transformation plan  would extend and upgrade the existing fish landing jetty to enable modern vessels to dock with traditional fishing boats.

He said it would further increase the growth of downstream activities in the area such as fish processing, frozen fish and otoshimi.

“Under the human capital development programme, ECERDC aims to train 2,000 students in 50 schools through the empower ECER Academic Training Programme,

while the empower ECER Skills and Entrepreneurship Training Programme will train 627 participants in Kelantan with the support of Yayasan Petronas.

He said ECERDC remained steadfast in supporting the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) through the PENJANA-ECERDC programme to increase the marketability of the ECER workforce affected by the recent pandemic.

“To date, 1,029 participants have been trained in Kelantan and 87% have obtained employment with an average income of RM2,300 per month,” he said.

Source: Bernama

ECERDC targets RM1.8 bln investment in Kelantan this year

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Business sentiment growth among Japanese companies in Malaysia is forecast to accelerate in the second half of 2022 based on a survey by the Japanese Chamber of Trade and Industry Malaysia (Jactim).

President Daiji Kojima said that according to the bi-annual survey conducted among 557 Jactim members between Jan 19 and Feb 21, 2022, the business sentiment diffusion index (DI) is projected to expand to 20.5 points, continuing its positive trend from the first half of 2022 (H1 2022).

“DI for Japanese business sentiment for H1 2022 rose sharply by 30 points to +9.4 points, turning positive after being in negative territory for eight terms and the highest since H1 2018 due to relaxation of movement control, in particular with the reopening of most economic sectors and greater demand in the semiconductor sector,” he told Bernama.

The online survey received 234 responses, involving 140 companies in the manufacturing sector and 94 non-manufacturing companies.

Meanwhile, Jactim general adviser cum Japan External Trade Organisation Kuala Lumpur (Jetro KL) managing director Mai Onozawa said more Japanese companies are considering expanding in Malaysia compared to last year.

In a separate concurrent survey conducted by Jactim and Jetro KL on Japanese companies’ business condition, it was found that the English proficiency of workers and a good living environment topped the list of  Malaysia’s attractiveness for medium- to long-term investment among Japanese investors, she said.

“Business sentiment is driven by new business development in the electrical and electronics sector,  electric vehicle expansion in the automotive industry and growth of the wholesale and retail markets,” she told Bernama.

Onozawa said most Japanese companies in Malaysia are now in expansion mode with signs of recovery from the effects of COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on the joint survey, more than half of Japanese companies in the manufacturing sector in Malaysia have recovered from the COVID-19 period.

However, operations for nearly half of the non-manufacturing Japanese companies have not returned to the pre-COVID-19 level.

“It is hoped the domestic economy would recover further and support recovery,” she added.

She emphasised that Japanese companies in Malaysia are also already making efforts to go carbon neutral and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“The adoption of digital technologies is also relatively high in Malaysia among the ASEAN countries, particularly as COVID-19 has further accelerated the adoption of the technology. However, securing talents is an issue, particularly with the shortage of engineers and labour shortages,” she said.

Onozawa highlighted that there are calls to speed up the process of the recruitment of foreign workers in light of the serious shortage.

In terms of human rights, she said based on the survey, Malaysia has the highest percentage among ASEAN countries in recognising human rights issues such as appropriate labour practices and ensuring occupational safety.

Source: Bernama

Business sentiment among Japanese firms in Malaysia to see robust growth: Jactim survey

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