MITI calls for new trade approach focused on fair wages and sustaining a robust middle class - MIDA | Malaysian Investment Development Authority
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MITI calls for new trade approach focused on fair wages and sustaining a robust middle class

MITI calls for new trade approach focused on fair wages and sustaining a robust middle class

15 Feb 2024

The Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (Miti) has emphasised the need for a new trade agenda which prioritises fair wages for workers and aims to uphold a robust middle class in both advanced and developing economies.

“Trade has to ensure that workers are well paid, and both advanced economies and developing countries could sustain a robust middle class,” Deputy Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Liew Chin Tong said when officiating the Apec Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting’s opening ceremony, hosted by ABAC Malaysia, on Thursday.

“Additionally, we need to ensure trade will help create a better society, and help the government to keep taxes. It’s important to ensure the government is not deprived of a tax base from multinationals. [It] would also have to place climate at its centre, while ensuring that states receive adequate taxes from multinationals to provide services, especially health services, and to ensure social cohesion. 

“Trade needs to connect the dots between climate, the sustenance of middle-class society, and ensuring that the workforce is healthy and feels secure enough about their lives, so that they could consume as consumers, not just workers. This is just a general view to explain to Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) member economies that we need to think about the new trade agenda. It can’t be the regurgitation of old cliches, but rather a fresh approach,” he stressed. 

ABAC Malaysia, tasked with offering a business perspective to the government for advancing trade in the region, is hosting its first meeting for the year, which provides an opportunity for Malaysia’s private sector to engage with business leaders from the 20 Apec economies, including the US, Australia, Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia. The three-day event is running until Friday.

ABAC Malaysia is represented by three permanent members. They are chairman of RM Capital Partners Datuk Rohana Tan Sri Mahmood, Westports Holdings Bhd executive chairman and group managing director Datuk Ruben Emir Gnanalingam Abdullah, and Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) president and group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tengku Muhammad Taufik Tengku Aziz. 

ABAC Malaysia is also represented by alternate ABAC member Keong Hann Yeoh, who is an executive director of YTL Power International Bhd. 

Touching on domestic policies, Liew said Malaysia introduced two ground-breaking national policies last year, namely the New Industrial Master Plan 2030 and the National Energy Transition Roadmap, which is in line with the country’s commitment to APEC’s trade facilitation and closer economic cooperation priorities. 

It also demonstrates Malaysia’s emphasis on creation and adoption of cutting-edge technology, prioritising environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, acceleration of energy transition, as well as inclusive growth. 

“Specifically on inclusive growth, I highly commend Apec Peru’s efforts this year to promote the transition of informal economic actors to the formal and global economy. Such an initiative resonates well with our priorities, due to the similarities in our economic make-up. As I have constantly advocated, Malaysia needs to envisage ourselves to become a middle-class society, with micro, small and medium enterprises playing a monumental role as the backbone of our economy.

“Through open communication, shared interest, and an unwavering commitment to economic cooperation, we can bridge divides, and fortify a more resilient Asia-Pacific. In order to tap into and leverage the boundless opportunities for growth, public-private partnerships and cooperation between Apec governments and the private sector are key if we are to achieve tangible outcomes,” Liew added.

Source: The Edge Malaysia