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E-commerce: The digital heart of Malaysia’s economy

E-commerce is the great equaliser. Via e-commerce, a single person can run as a global entity thanks to the availability of inexpensive and accessible tools that allow them to source, ship, deliver, pay, collect and digitalise other key aspects of business operations.

E-commerce is an essential aspect in the development of the digital economy and a crucial enabler in catalysing the growth of businesses, especially for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are the backbone of the nation’s economy.

Malaysia’s e-commerce has grown tremendously in the past couple of years. The Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) reported that the total income for e-commerce transactions in 2021 was RM1.09 trillion, a growth of 21.8% as compared to RM896 billion in 2020.

This is the first time that income from e-commerce transactions breached the RM1 trillion mark, and is on track toward realising Malaysia’s aspiration of having an e-commerce market size of RM1.65 trillion by 2025 – a vision propelled by the National E-Commerce Strategic Roadmap (NESR).

This new economy presents both opportunities and challenges. For one, businesses and individuals can now expand their reach beyond local shores, tapping into an increasingly globalised and borderless market. However, this also means that entrepreneurs who fail to embrace e-commerce run the risk of being left behind.

The government has extensive initiatives and programmes to help MSMEs begin their e-commerce journey. Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), Malaysia’s lead digital economy agency, has led the execution of Go-eCommerce Onboarding and Shop Malaysia Online campaigns under Belanjawan 2021 to encourage the adoption of e-commerce and e-payments.

As of Dec 31, 2021, both campaigns have successfully benefited more than 830,000 MSMEs, with 365,900 new MSMEs onboarded last year. Through collaboration between the 32 e-commerce and e-payment partners with MDEC, these MSMEs have collectively generated RM7.39 billion in income.

Laying the foundation with the NESR

Recognising the critical role of e-commerce in accelerating the growth of the digital economy in Malaysia, the NESR has been driven by the government as a whole-of-nation collaborative approach between the public and private sector, since 2016.

Building on the foundation of the first NESR, NESR 2.0 – which has been endorsed by the National Council of Digital Economy and 4IR (MED4IR) – aims for e-commerce to be the engine for catalytic growth for businesses in Malaysia from 2021 to 2025.

The NESR is meant to take Malaysia’s e-commerce to the next level, and it has succeeded in many ways. From 2016 till the end of 2021, through collaboration between various ministries, agencies, and the industry under the NESR, the number of MSMEs adopting e-commerce has reached 890,000, surpassing the initial 2025 target of 875,000 under the NESR and the Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint (MyDIGITAL).

With the 2025 target exceeded, the NESR Taskforce has revised the initial target from 875,000 to 1,148,000.

This achievement is made possible with the targeted interventions taken by the government under the Penjana 2020 and Belanjawan 2021 initiatives, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

While Covid-19 has brought about unprecedented challenges, the foundation laid by NESR in 2016 and the collaborative effort of the ministries, agencies and the private sector have helped MSMEs to leverage e-commerce in mitigating the effects of the pandemic.

The roadmap also seeks to boost the number of businesses exporting via e-commerce to reach 84,000 by 2025.

Taking e-commerce to the next level with the RCEP

On March 18 this year, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement came force, paving the way for the country to integrate into the world’s largest free trade agreement (FTA) – one that involves 15 countries with a total population of more than 2.2 billion.

Being part of the RCEP will have a tremendous effect on Malaysia’s e-commerce growth. One of the 20 chapters under the RCEP centres on e-commerce. It aims to promote e-commerce among the 15 countries as well as wider usage of e-commerce globally and to enhance cooperation on e-commerce among the parties.

Among others, the RCEP e-commerce chapter includes key provisions relating to the domestic regulatory framework, paperless trading, transparency and electronic authentication. Additionally, it serves to create an environment of trust and confidence through online consumer protection and protection of personal information, and cooperation in cybersecurity.

Essentially, the RCEP seeks to create an environment that encourages e-commerce, protects consumers and fosters cross-border trade – ultimately benefiting businesses.

It’s worth noting that the RCEP isn’t just the largest FTA in the world, but it’s also the first FTA between China, Japan and South Korea, three of Asia’s largest economies.

With Malaysia being a party to RCEP, local businesses now have greater opportunities in the largest trading bloc in the world, through reduced or removal of barriers to trade, as well as greater harmonisation of standards and regulatory approaches. In short, this brings us closer to economic integration.

Malaysia Digital, and the future of e-commerce

Moving forward, the government will be driving further development of e-commerce with initiatives announced under Budget 2022. With the success of the Go-eCommerce and Shop Malaysia Online campaigns in 2020 and 2021, the government will continue and enhance these programmes with the RM250 million allocation under Budget 2022.

As our economy and borders reopen, the approach for Budget 2022’s e-commerce initiative will be more targeted, focusing on key sectors such as tourism, export of our local products and leveraging on e-commerce to drive more footfall to physical outlets.

2022’s focus is no longer on mass onboarding, but to give attention to sectors that require intervention.

With e-commerce as a critical component and pillar of the digital economy, the government, together with MDEC, has announced the Malaysia Digital initiative to succeed MSC Malaysia and to galvanise public-private partnerships to accelerate Malaysia’s transformation into a digital nation, ultimately benefiting the country as a whole.

Malaysia Digital will be driven through catalytic high-impact initiatives, strategic and sustainable investments and inclusive policies.

One of the catalytic initiatives announced under Malaysia Digital is Malaysia Digital Trade, which is to drive e-commerce to be the springboard for businesses to embrace digital trade, drive interoperability and greater harmonisation of standards and regulatory approaches, as well as facilitate trade within and across borders.

The various programmes under the Malaysia Digital Trade initiative are intended to equip all types of businesses to better respond to emerging challenges and optimise the opportunities arising from digitalisation, such as the NESR.

Underpinning Malaysia Digital Trade is the seamless and end-to-end movement of data between businesses to enhance the efficiency, accuracy, and reliability of transactions across sectors and industries. One of the key programmes being pursued is the e-invoicing initiative.

With Digital Trade as one of the catalytic initiatives under Malaysia Digital and combined with the RCEP, Malaysian businesses including entrepreneurs from the rural parts of the country now have the greater access to promote and offer their products and services to the rest of the world.

It will be the inclusive, progressive and sustainable economy that we have envisioned under the 12th Malaysian Plan – an economy that is equitable for all. It will be a future that is better and brighter.

Datuk Seri Mohammad Mentek is the secretary general of the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia

Source: The Edge Markets

E-commerce: The digital heart of Malaysia’s economy

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Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to begin discussions on frameworks of cooperation related to the digital and green economy with a view to concluding them this year.

Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong met in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday (June 30) and agreed that the recently launched Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) has strategic and economic significance towards strengthening the region’s trade ecosystem and to provide the impetus to optimise the multi-fold benefits.

Azmin Ali said in a joint press release that the digital and green aspects are rapidly becoming the fundamental form of the economy.

Therefore, embarking on a conscientious collaboration in these two areas will bring about a wider range of benefits to businesses in both countries, namely, in entrepreneurship, industrialisation, investment and trade aspects, the statement said.

The frameworks of cooperation are also for both countries to bring about implementable and targeted programmes to contribute towards sustainable global economic linkages, including those being fostered through the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the statement said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital connectivity between countries besides accelerating the digital transformation of traditional business models. Therefore, to prepare for the next phase of growth in the digital economy, it is important for Singapore and Malaysia to foster greater interoperability and collaboration, the statement said.

Meanwhile, Gan said the digital and green economy are key drivers of economic growth and discussions on cooperation frameworks would bring about tangible benefits to both economies.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia, Singapore to develop cooperation framework on digital & green economy

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Investment opportunities at POIC Lahad Datu received its most significant China audience on Thursday through an on-line forum initiated by the influential China Overseas Development Association (CODA).

Mooted by the Beijing-based chapter of the Malaysia Investment Development Authority (MIDA) the forum brought together some of the most prominent China companies investing overseas and top officials of the state-backed CODA.

In his opening remarks, POIC Sabah chairman Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee reiterated POIC Lahad Datu’s desire in drawing China investors’ interest in the wider resource-rich BIMP-EAGA territories using POIC Lahad Datu as a staging post.

CODA is not only an official organ for promoting China’s Belt and Road initiative. It is  also an important bridge between China’s private sector and state control institutions’ investments globally.

This, combined with POIC Sabah’s signing of collaboration agreement with China Construction Bank last April, is expected to provide the ingredients for a breakthrough of China investments into East Malaysia.

Although China has more than 10 years been the main trading partner of Malaysia, and billions of china investments are in Malaysia, these activities are confined in Peninsular Malaysia.

Alluding to the POIC-CCB tie-up, Yong sees CCB’s familiarity with Malaysia (CCB set up its first Malaysian branch in 2006) and it is being widely known among China’s business community as China’s top four banks augur well for Chinese investors’ excitement to come to Sabah.

Yong, who spoke in Mandarin, also alluded to a recent statement by China’s foreign minister Wang Yi, who reiterated China’s interest in Sabah’s palm oil downstream industry, which is one of the focus sectors of POIC Sabah.

The forum was briefed on POIC’s investment potentials by Business Development Manager Veve Lo who emphasised that investment prospects at POIC Lahad Datu are best for its rich resources from palm oil, minerals and marine wealth.

BIMP-EAGA has a population in excess of 70 million. The region has recently come into international focus because of Indonesia’s plan to build a new national capital at Nusantara in East Kalimantan, which is just about an hour’s flying time south from Lahad Datu.

The abundant quayside industrial land at POIC Lahad Datu, its deep water harbour, and ready port infrastructure make it an ideal location for China investors to plan forays into BIMP-EAGA.

The state government of Sabah has recognised Lahad Datu’s strategic position and is planning to widen its global connectivity by way of a new international airport. This bodes well with POIC Lahad Datu’s plan to leverage on its various geographical and infrastructural advantages to turn the industrial park into a logistics hub of the region.

More than two hundred CODA members participated in the forum from Beijing.

CODA president He Zhenwei stated that the aim of the webinar was for investors to find out more regarding investment opportunities in Malaysia.

Deputy head of MIDA Beijing briefed about MIDA’s incentives and success stories.

Malaysia’s Ambassador to China stated that as a result of Wang Yi’s visit, there is greater traction and interest for Chinese companies to look at Sabah as an attractive destination for investments.

Source: Borneo Post Online

POIC Lahad Datu attracts China investors’ interest

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The economic performance of all states registered positive growth in 2021, with five states recording a better growth rate than the 3.1 per cent growth rate at the national level.

Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) chief statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said the five states were Penang with a growth rate of 6.8 per cent, followed by Selangor (five per cent), Terengganu (3.6 per cent), Perak (3.5 per cent), and Kedah (3.2 per cent).

“The main drivers of the gross domestic product (GDP) performance were the manufacturing and services sectors. The manufacturing sector was one of the sectors that achieved a positive growth pattern.

“Based on this growth, we expect the nation’s economic growth pattern to grow rapidly in every state, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said in a media briefing on the 2021 economic performance by state here, today.

For the GDP per capita, Mohd Uzir said 13 states and two federal territories registered an increase in the GDP per capita value compared to 2020, with seven states recording a GDP per capita value above the national level of RM47,324, namely the Federal Territory (FT) of Kuala Lumpur (RM124,232) and FT of Labuan (RM78,032), Penang (RM58,527), and Sarawak (RM57,635).

Meanwhile, Selangor recorded RM55,568, Melaka (RM47,799) and Negeri Sembilan (RM47,452).

Mohd Uzir expected the Malaysian economy to continue to expand this year following the increase in services locally and overseas, with the government’s quick action in lessening the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, such as the reopening of the nation’s borders, implementation of aid and economic stimulus packages, as well as the success of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

He said the recovery impact was seen in the improved GDP growth rate of five per cent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2022 compared with a contraction of 0.5 per cent in Q1 2021.

Mohd Uzir said April 2022 Leading Index, which predicts the economic direction in the short term, also projected that Malaysia’s economic performance would maintain a better trend despite facing an uncertain economic condition due to differences in the rate and time for countries that have reopened their economic activities.

Source: Bernama

All states record positive growth, 5 states outperform national growth rate: Chief statistician

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Farm Fresh Bhd (FFB) has proposed to acquire an 8.05-acre piece of freehold industrial land in Seremban for RM18.24mil, to be used as a new manufacturing hub.

The dairy company, in a filing with Bursa Malaysia, said its wholly-owned subsidiary, The Holstein Milk Company (M) Sdn Bhd (THMCM), had entered into a sale and purchase agreement to acquire a 32,590 sq m or 8.05316 acres freehold industrial land in Bandar Baru Enstek from THP Enstek Development Sdn Bhd.

FFB said the proposed acquisition will be fully funded from its initial public offering (IPO) proceeds.

“FFB plans to use the land for the establishment of a new manufacturing hub in the greater central region of Peninsular Malaysia to increase FFB’s existing production capacity for dairy and plant-based products, and new adjacent product offerings.

“The land is strategically located in the central region of Peninsular, which will enable FFB to improve its cost-efficiency by reducing transportation costs as the new manufacturing hub will be closer to its customers in Klang Valley,” it said.

Source: The Star

Farm Fresh buys industrial land for RM18.24m to build manufacturing hub

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Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, has broken into the global top 30 best student cities to live in.

According to the latest QS Best Student Cities Ranking 2023, Kuala Lumpur is now placed 28th globally.

The capital moved up by three places in the 10th edition of the global ranking, beating cities like Beijing, Los Angeles, Adelaide and Taipei.

For the fourth consecutive year, London, United Kingdom, took the top spot.

Coming in sixth in Asia, Kuala Lumpur is also ranked as Asia’s most affordable study destination.

In Asia, Seoul, Tokyo and Hong Kong bagged the top three spots respectively while Singapore was fourth.

Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) chief executive officer Mohd Radzlan Jalaludin said this showed that Malaysia was on the right track to achieving the government’s target of having 250,000 international students in the country by 2025.

“It’s a positive outlook. With KL ranked as Asia’s most affordable study destination, the country will become a more attractive destination for families planning their children’s future tertiary education pathway.

“We are targeting to have 50,000 international students apply to study in Malaysian higher education institutions by the end of this year,” he said, adding that last year, there were 40,000 applications.

The number of students coming in had been steadily increasing, said Mohd Radzlan, adding that Malaysia experienced a 6% increase in enrolment between January and May this year compared to the same period in 2019.

Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) Master of Business Administration student Justin Louis Halim first came to pursue his undergraduate programme at the private university.The Indonesian student is now staying on to complete his masters.

The 22-year-old said Malaysia was his main choice due to the affordability of the tuition fees, cost of living and for its quality programmes.

“Price wise, tuition fees and cost of living does not differ that much from Indonesia but the programmes offered here are very different and specialised which I couldn’t find back home.

“Malaysia’s culture, liveability and internationalisation are also plus points for us international students,” he added.

APU Master of Philosophy in Management student Khyaati Ramlalsing, 23, enjoys the togetherness among local and international students, the affordability of food prices and APU’s facilities were some of her main factors for choosing Malaysia as her tertiary education destination.

Like Justin, the Mauritian too stayed on after completing her undergraduate programme.

Bangladeshi student Faizaan Rabib Islam, 22, first moved to Malaysia nine years ago with his family in support of his older siblings who came to pursue their degrees.

Soon, the Taylor’s University student followed suit and is currently pursuing the American degree programme.

“The day-to-day living in the Klang Valley is reasonable and the cost of university programmes here aren’t as exorbitant as it is in other countries. Also, most higher education institutions here offer a great education,” he said.

During the EMGS’ 10th anniversary dinner on Monday, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Dr Noraini Ahmad said Malaysia remained as the preferred choice of destination for international students to further their studies.

She said although the number of applications to further studies in Malaysia slightly declined following the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the situation improved in 2021 with the number rising by some 32%.

“This was further strengthened when KL was ranked second in the QS Top Universities ‘Most Affordable City for Students’ for 2018 and 2019. In other words, the tuition costs are affordable,” she said.

QS senior vice-president Ben Sowter said five of the world’s top 10 cities in the metrics for quality of universities were based in Asia, highlighting the continent as a bastion of higher education excellence.

“Combine this with outstanding career opportunities in its metropolitan hubs and we see an exceptional region to study and live in,” he said, adding that Asia was home to some of the most outstanding student experiences in the world.

Factors such as affordability, quality of life, university standard and the views of previous students who have studied in these destinations were taken into account.

A total of 140 cities worldwide with a population of at least 250,000 are ranked annually.

Source: The Star

KL, Asia’s most affordable study hub

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Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong has agreed to introduce new investors from Australia to invest in Malaysia, said Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Mohamed Azmin said the matter was stated in their meeting here on Wednesday (June 29), where the investment to be made is in line with the National Investment Aspiration (NIA) policy, which emphasises quality and high-tech investments.

He said the electrical and electronics, chemical industry, automotive, aerospace and digital economy were among the sectors under the NIA that Malaysia would pay attention on to attract Australian investors.

“I think this is a new approach not only for inward investment but they are ready to make the transfer of new technologies and also create a business ecosystem and build a global supply chain among local SMEs (small and medium enterprises).

“This (Australian investment) will reduce our reliance on foreign labour and give domestic SMEs the opportunity to be part of the global supply chain and this is a commitment that has been given,” Mohamed Azmin told the media after receiving Wong’s courtesy call on Wednesday.

The hour-long meeting here in conjunction with Wong’s three-day official visit to Malaysia, which began on Tuesday (June 28), among others discussed efforts to strengthen bilateral relations between Australia and Malaysia, as well as trade between Australia and Malaysia.

Mohamed Azmin said both countries also agreed that the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) be revised, so that it is more relevant to current demands.

Australia’s former Minister of Trade Craig Emerson and Malaysia’s former International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed signed the MAFTA in Kuala Lumpur on May 22, 2012. The agreement entered into force on Jan 1, 2013.

Australia is Malaysia’s 13th largest trading partner in 2021, with total trade of RM52.28 billion, up 28.7% from the value recorded in 2020.

Mohamed Azmin said Malaysia and Australia agreed that the negotiation process to upgrade the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) could be finalised by the end of this year, so that economic cooperation could be strengthened in new strategic areas.

“AANZFTA has been agreed to be a priority for member countries to enhance cooperation on this free trade platform,” he said.

AANZFTA, which involves 10 ASEAN member countries, Australia and New Zealand, came into effect in January 2010. It abolished tariffs for 90% of goods traded between the bloc and the two countries.

According to the aseanbriefing.com website, the agreement will be fully implemented by 2025, with almost all trade between ASEAN countries, Australia and New Zealand being tariff-free.

Mohamed Azmin said the free trade agreement is important because Malaysia, as a small economy and a small trading nation needs partners to develop a wider potential or market.

According to him, so far, Malaysia has signed and ratified 15 free trade agreements, namely seven bilaterally and eight regionally.

“The domestic market is small and, of course, with Malaysia’s participation in many of these free trade agreements, it can open up a wider area.

“One of these independent agreements is AANZFTA, which will definitely provide an opportunity for local players to penetrate markets among ASEAN countries, Australia and New Zealand, (where) we can enjoy import duties waiver or even a wider market,” he said.

Source: Bernama

Australia’s foreign minister agrees to introduce investors to Malaysia

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Central Industrial Corp Bhd (CICB), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Global Bhd (CGB) aims to double or even triple its revenue per annum for its manufacturing division in 2023 with the purchase of machinery that will increase the manufacturing capacity of our industrial masking tapes.

CGB group managing director Chew Hian Tat said that the machinery will increase output volume to 215 tonnes monthly from our current capacity of 179 tonnes per month. He hopes the machinery will be successfully installed sometime in July and we can subsequently commence the operations by August.

He said that at the launch on June 29 of the new logo of CICB in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of its establishment.

CICB, which was founded in 1972, pioneered the manufacturing of industrial hi-temp masking tapes in Malaysia, specifically crepe paper masking tapes. Since its inception, CICB has been serving the automotive, painter and industrial business sectors in both the domestic and international markets such as Australia, New Zealand, the US, China, Thailand, India, Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Sri Lanka and Europe.

To date, CICB’s products amount to more than 50 types of specialised industrial tapes and label stocks under its belt as a result of its consistent research and development (R&D) and innovation efforts to extend its product portfolio for tape related trading items.

“CICB started 50 years ago with the vision to be a leading premium solution provider to the adhesive labels and tapes industries through our high quality and innovative products. In line with this, we have increased our focus on R&D efforts to produce newer and more innovative products to keep up with the constantly evolving industry trends as well as to cater to a wider spectrum of customers and end-user requirements,“ said Chew.

“Our immediate focus will be to diversify into food and beverage, particularly food security as well as manufacturing base industries segment to expand our business areas. We believe these two industries will be the key growth drivers for CICB in the near future,“ added Chew.

CGB also has rolled out other expansion plans which include improving its production efficiency through the purchase of machinery in anticipation of increased demand. The rapidly expanding automotive industry is expected to boost the demand for masking tapes.

“At the moment, we’re finalising the purchase of machinery that will increase the manufacturing capacity of our industrial masking tapes by two and a half times to 70 million square metres (sq m) of tapes per annum from the current 20 million sq m. We had also recently received additional mixers that would increase our mixing output volume to 215 tonnes monthly from our current capacity of 179 tonnes per month. This translates to a 20% increase per month. We hope that the new mixers will be successfully installed sometime in July and we can subsequently commence the operations by August,“ said Chew.

In line with the expected increase in production, the group aims to double or even triple its revenue per annum for its manufacturing division in 2023.

CGB aims to triple its revenue its manufacturing division in 2023

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The Australia-based Element 25 Pte Ltd has proposed to invest AUD300-400 million to produce high purity manganese sulphate (HPMSM) for lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles in Sarawak.

This was mentioned during a roundtable meeting between the Sarawak delegation led by Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan with officials from Element 25 in Perth recently.

In a statement today, Awang Tengah said that Sarawak always maintained an attractive investment destination.

“Sarawak is in favour of these types of manufacturing activities as they are in line with our Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 that aims to achieve a high-income economy, where economic prosperity, social inclusivity and environmental sustainability are enjoyed by all.

“As the world moves towards decarbonisation, the adoption of more environmentally friendly technologies including lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles are gaining popularity,” he said.

He added that with the ongoing United States – China trade war and recent Russia-Ukraine war, the strategic location of Sarawak will become more prominent.

Among those present at the meeting were Deputy Minister of International Trade and Investment Datuk Dr Malcolm Mussen Lamoh and Element 25 Managing Director Justin Brown.

Those in the Sarawak delegation include Sarawak Economic Planning Unit director Datu Abdullah Zaidel, Ministry of International Trade, Industry and Investment (Mintred) Sarawak acting permanent secretary Dzulkornain Masron, Mintred advisor Datuk Naroden Majais and Mintred special officer Datu Liaw Soon Eng.

Source: Borneo Post Online

Australian company eyeing to invest in lithium-ion batteries manufacturing in Sarawak

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Malaysia and Australia has restated their commitment to further elevate robust bilateral and trade relations, following the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) entered by both countries in January last year.

The CSP is aimed at charting a path to a more concrete framework in strategic cooperation including in the area of economic prosperity.

Senior Minister and Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, during a working luncheon with Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and her delegation on Wednesday (June 29), reaffirmed Malaysia’s commitment to taking the already vibrant subsisting relations to the next level of collaboration, notably in trade and investment.

In strengthening the Malaysia-Australia supply chain, Malaysia also welcomes knowledge transfer from Australia with regards to supply chain mapping development, framework and governance structure focusing on six industries, namely Personal Protective Equipment, Pharmaceutical, Medical Devices, Food and Beverages, Electrical & Electronics, and Automotive.

The Senior Minister also acknowledged the Australian government’s support and cooperation with food standard, which will facilitate trade and serves the food security agenda of both countries, emphasising that Malaysia will coordinate with related bodies to continue collaboration with Australian authorities.

In addition, the nation welcomes more Australian companies to invest in sectors targeted under the National Investment Aspirations (NIA) in promoting high value, high technology, knowledge, capital, skills-intensive and high-income employment.

“Malaysia and Australia share similar aspirations towards greater regional integration, with a bilateral relationship anchored by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AANZFTA), as well as the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF),” Mohamed Azmin said.

In response, Wong said as one of Malaysia’s most important and strategic trade partners in the Oceania region, Australia looks forward to scaling up the trade and investment relationship to greater heights through various bilateral, regional and multilateral platforms.

Both ministers are also keen to explore opportunities to intensify cooperation on the digital front to advance digital economy development in areas of data innovation, artificial intelligence, trade facilitation, and personal data protection.

Australia was Malaysia’s largest trading partner in the Oceania region in 2021, while on the investment front, Australian companies continued to choose Malaysia as a hub for their global operations and gateway into the global market, with the implemented manufacturing projects worth RM5.67 billion from Australia creating more than 20,000 employment opportunities.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia, Australia reiterates commitment to boost bilateral trade relations

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The declaration of the Lahad Datu Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC Lahad Datu) Port’s full operation as a public port can further boost Sabah’s industrial and economic development.

Deputy chief minister Datuk Dr Joachim Gunsalam said the declaration of POIC Lahad Datu Port, in accordance with Section 3 Sabah Ports Authority Enactment 1981, is expected to attract more investors and have a significant impact on the industrial development of the east coast of the state.

He said the declaration of POIC Lahad Datu Port as a public port would also further strengthen its capability to play an important role as a logistics hub in Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA).

“The POIC Lahad Datu Port was built in 2013 but can’t operate as a real port as no declaration has been made in accordance with the law,” he told reporters after the port’s official declaration ceremony here today.

The ceremony was officiated by Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, who is also the state Works Minister.

He said with today’s declaration, POIC Lahad Datu Port is ready to conduct its business operations like other existing ports.

“Many industry players use the port because of its good condition and strategic area.

“We hope that the volume of cargo and container imports into Sabah can be increased, thus giving significance to the state’s economic development, apart from reducing the price of goods,” he said.

Joachim, who is also the state Industrial Development Minister, said POIC Lahad Datu played an important role in the context of Sabah’s development and industry, including in the sectors promoted under the Sabah Industrial Master Plan.

He said these included oil palm downstream activities, logs and cocoa, food processing industry, electrical and electronics industry, petrochemical and gas industries, non-metallic mineral products industry and the machinery and mould industry.

“POIC Lahad Datu will not only bring in direct investment in cluster sites but also stimulate greater economic activity in Lahad Datu and nearby areas including in the services, industry, agriculture and construction sectors,” he said.

He said with the availability of container, dry and liquid bulk terminals as well as barge landing facilities, POIC Lahad Datu is able to meet the needs of consumers to conduct their business.

“Ports play an important role in the overall logistics chain to enable the development of trade and economy of the state. Of course, the official declaration of this port will directly attract new investors to POIC Lahad Datu,” he said.

POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Fredian Gan said POIC Lahad Datu Industrial Park has attracted about RM3.5 billion in investments so far and the value of investments is expected to increase further with the declaration of the port.

“With the availability of several infrastructure facilities, POIC Sabah is beginning to plan the direction going forward, including making Lahad Datu a hub for logistic, manufacturing, processing, transfer and consolidation of superior goods in the BIMP-EAGA region,” he said.

He said POIC Sabah also supported the plan to build a new international airport in Lahad Datu, which is seen as a catalyst for the initiative to establish a centralised transport hub in POIC Lahad Datu, as well as an international marine hub and the establishment of a free zone area

At the ceremony, Bung Moktar and Joachim also witnessed the signing of a port operation concession agreement between the Sabah Ports Authority with POIC Sabah and POIC Logistics Sdn Bhd.

Source: Bernama

Declaration of POIC Lahad Datu Port to boost Sabah’s economy — Joachim

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Catalysed by Covid-19, the globalisation of digitisation means there is an increasingly urgent need to address the various obstacles we face to harness the forces of technology for the well-being of Malaysian households, firms and workers, said Bursa Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Abdul Wahid Omar. 

He said the digital economy and digitisation have certainly become somewhat of a buzzword in policy circles over the past decades.

“Yet, we cannot lose sight of the importance of digitalisation to the economic development and livelihoods of people.

“We live in a world where we either innovate or perish,” he said at the World Digital Economy and Technology Summit (WDETS) gala dinner here on Tuesday (June 28). 

Abdul Wahid said while digitalisation could have substantial positive effects on the overall macroeconomic performance, there could also be labour market implications, as automation and artificial intelligence would potentially replace workers.

He also said ensuring a sufficient level of internet infrastructure development and digital education, as well as reducing the digital divide were other factors driving the potential of digitalisation, as an input to economic progress.

“Policymakers, therefore, face challenges in order to harness the maximum benefits of digitalisation for the competitiveness of their economies, including through appropriate education and labour market reforms, as well as digital infrastructure investment,” he said. 

Abdul Wahid further pointed out that Malaysia has among the highest number of digital users and a good infrastructure for the digital economy, with almost one million small and medium enterprises adopting e-commerce.

“We have over 5,000 innovative start-ups and three unicorn start-ups. Malaysia’s digital economy contributes to a quarter of our economy.

“We have emerging digital industries such as smart cities, manufacturing, fintech and agro-food tech. Our country may be small relative to our neighbours but we have many innovation clusters such as Penang, Cyberjaya and Kuching,” he noted. 

Besides that, he also said that the multi-stakeholder approach will be critical to ensuring that the benefits of the digital economy are distributed and shared equitably with the people.

Source: Bernama

Urgent need to harness tech forces in digital globalisation, says Bursa Malaysia chairman

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Inari Amertron Bhd is forming a joint venture (JV) with China Fortune-Tech Capital Co Ltd (CFTC) to carry out outsourced semiconductor assembly and test (OSAT) services in China.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, Inari said its wholly-owned subsidiary Amertron International Ltd has entered into a JV contract with CFTC (Yiwu) Equity Investment Fund Partnership (Limited Partnership) and CFTC Equity Investment Management (Beijing) Co Ltd.

CFTC (Yiwu) is a private equity fund administered by CFTC, while CFTC Equity is wholly owned by CFTC.

Inari said Amertron International will take up 54.4648% interest in the JV company, called Yiwu Semiconductor International Corporation, while CFTC (Yiwu) will own the remaining 45.5352% stake.

Amertron International will have to contribute RM283.33 million cash into the JV company while CFTC (Yiwu) will inject RM131.78 million of new cash investment, said Inari.

The group said it will fund the RM283 million with proceeds raised from its private placement completed in July last year, which raised RM1.03 billion.

The contract on Tuesday (June 28) came after Inari and CFTC entered into a memorandum of understanding on Oct 18 last year with the intention to set up this JV.

Inari said on Tuesday that the JV will enable it to improve its existing captive business strategy and expand its existing operations in the China market.

“This would enable Inari Group to diversify its product and customer base as well as adding revenue and earning streams with a potential IPO in China at later stages,” it said.

Inari said the JV also represents an opportunity to partner with a strong local technology fund which will help in opening up the China OSAT market for the group.

Inari closed one sen or 0.4% lower at RM2.66, giving it a market capitalisation of RM9.86 billion.

Source: The Edge Markets

Inari investing RM283 mil in JV with CFTC to carry out OSAT services in China

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Penang recorded approved manufacturing investments totaling RM6.3 billion in the first quarter of 2022, paving the way for it to be among the country’s top contributors in terms of total investment inflow this year, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said.

“The state’s commendable performance that continues to punch above our weight is testament to our resilient industrial ecosystem, placing us at the forefront of industrialisation,” he said in his speech at the grand opening of Smith & Nephew’s manufacturing facility here on Tuesday (June 28).

Chow said Penang garnered a record high of RM76.2 billion in total approved manufacturing investments in 2021, significantly exceeding the state’s past performances.

“In particular, foreign direct investments (FDIs) contributed 98% of total investment inflows, making Penang the highest recipient of manufacturing FDIs in Malaysia,” he said.

On the trade front, Chow said Penang topped the nation’s list in 2021, with an all-time high export value of RM354 billion.

“Electrical and electronic products and medical devices made up about 80% of our total exports last year,” he said.

With the opening of Smith & Nephew’s first manufacturing facility in Southeast Asia here, Penang is becoming a medical device hub in the region.

“With global revenues of US$5.2 billion (RM22.8 billion) in 2021, Smith & Nephew is among the 30 largest medical device firms in the world,” he said.

The company is a leading global medical technology company that specialises in the orthopaedics, sports medicine, ear, nose and throat and advanced wound management sub-segments, he said.

He said the Smith & Nephew investment is expected to create 800 high-value jobs in the coming years.

Source: Bernama

Penang records RM6.3 bil total approved manufacturing investment for Q1 2022

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Smith+Nephew, a global medical technology company, has opened a new high-technology manufacturing facility in Batu Kawan Industrial Park in Penang, with an investment worth over US$100 million (US$1=RM4.39).

It said the facility would primarily support the company’s orthopaedics business, which is expected to grow strongly in the Asia Pacific region.

“Up to 800 new local jobs in manufacturing, engineering and supply chain will be created over the next few years with key roles already filled,” it said in a joint statement with the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) on Tuesday (June 28).

The new facility was officiated by the Chief Minister of Penang Chow Kon Yeow in the presence of MIDA chief executive officer (CEO) Datuk Arham Abdul Rahman and Smith+Nephew CEO Dr Deepak Nath.

Smith+Nephew said its manufacturing facility is a frontrunner in sustainability and achieved its goal of zero waste-to-landfill four years ahead of target and was recognised by the United Nations Global Compact Network for Malaysia and Brunei in the category of SDG Benchmark 4: Zero Waste to Landfill and Incineration in December 2021.

“Smith+Nephew also provides a bursary to students from the Penang Skills Development Centre who will be employed and trained as machinists upon their graduation at the company,” it said. 

Meanwhile, Arham said the facility is the company’s first manufacturing venture within Southeast Asia, demonstrating the ability in attracting renowned medical device manufacturers into Malaysia.

“Smith+Nephew’s presence will also encourage the growth of local companies and our medical devices industry’s ecosystem and strengthen our reputation as an ideal med-tech manufacturing hub in ASEAN,” he said. 

According to the statement, MIDA has approved 38 medical devices-related manufacturing projects worth RM7.68 billion, which were expected to create approximately 12,500 employment opportunities for the country, in 2021. 

“The industry shows great promise in generating high-income jobs, increasing export value and reinforcing the domestic supply chain ecosystem,” it said.

It added that Malaysia is also well-positioned to be the manufacturing hub for the medical devices industry in Asia, while being home to over 200 manufacturers with more than 30 medical devices multinational companies producing high value-added medical devices.

Managing director and site leader of Smith+Nephew Operation Malaysia Sdn Bhd, Mark Arthun said the facility is expected to make its first shipment in July for the United States (US) market.

“We expect to make our first shipment out to the US next month and this facility represents our commitment to the Asia Pacific, Malaysia, our customers and their patients,” he told reporters after the opening ceremony.

He added that construction of the approximately 23,225.76 square metres facility started in March 2020 and was completed last year.

Meanwhile, Nath said that aligned with the company’s refreshed Strategy for Growth pillar to strengthen its foundation, the facility would enable Smith+Nephew to serve customers and their patients sustainably through advanced manufacturing.

“It is also a critical piece of our Strategy for Growth, improving efficiency and resilience and supports our purpose of Life Unlimited so that patients across the region and beyond can return to living life to their fullest,” he said.

Smith+Nephew is a portfolio medical technology company founded in Hull, United Kingdom in 1856, focusing on the repair, regeneration and replacement of soft and hard tissue. 

The company now operates in more than 100 countries.

Source: Bernama

Smith+Nephew opens a manufacturing facility in Malaysia with an investment worth over US$100 mil

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Malaysia is the world’s fifth fastest-growing real-time payments market, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 26.9 per cent, according to ACI Worldwide’s third edition of Prime-Time for Real-Time 2022 report.

According to the report, Malaysia is exceptional in the speed with which it has implemented nationwide real-time payments and its rapid adoption by banks and non-bank participants.

The country recorded 1.1 billion real-time payments transactions in 2021, facilitating an estimated US$434 million cost savings for businesses and consumers, and unlocking US$364 million of additional economic output, equivalent to 1.11 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

“Malaysia continues to accelerate the adoption of its real-time payment as well as introduce a stream of modern services, making it one of the most sophisticated real-time markets in the world.

“Malaysia’s real-time payments journey has been fast, distinctive, and sophisticated, encompassing speedy adoption built on low-value transactions, rapid evolution towards more sophisticated and value-added services, and a government determined to assist in driving adoption,” ACI Worldwide said in a statement.

ACI Worldwide partnered leading data and analytics company GlobalData, and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) for the report.

The report tracks real-time payments volumes and growth across 53 countries and includes an economic impact study for the first time, providing a comprehensive view of the economic benefits of real-time payments for consumers, businesses, and the broader economy across 30 countries.

The report covers the group of twenty (G20) nations, excluding Russia.

ACI Worldwide vice president and head of Asean Chee Cheng Ong said Malaysia is the perfect example for other Asean countries on how to establish, align and drive adoption of a modern real-time payments network.

“By opting to form its real-time network on ISO 20022, it has become one of the most harmonised and sophisticated real-time payment environments in the world and a perfect launchpad to provide a host of new and value-added services,” he said.

Malaysia’s real-time journey began in December 2018, with the arrival of a new real-time payment system, DuitNow, introduced by national payments network and central infrastructure provider, PayNet.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia 5th fastest growing real-time payment market globally

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Malaysia is still the preferred choice for international students to further their studies, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Noraini Ahmad.

She said although the number of applications to further studies in Malaysia has declined slightly following the Covid-19 pandemic, the situation improved in 2021 as the number rose again to up to 32 per cent.

“The situation was strengthened when Kuala Lumpur was ranked second in the QS Top Universities ‘Most Affordable City for Students’ for the year 2018 and 2019. In other words, the tuition costs are affordable,“ she said at Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) 10th anniversary dinner here tonight.

Noraini added that there were several factors that could attract and encourage more foreign students to study in the country, such as the quality of education which is recognised as world-class.

“QS World University Rankings in its report a few weeks ago recorded that four of our universities are listed in the top 200 in the world, and one of them, namely Universiti Malaya is in the top 100 .

“In fact, for the first time, 24 institutions of higher learning (IPT) in Malaysia have been listed in this ranking. This will definitely increase outsiders’ confidence in the quality of higher education in our country,“ she said.

As such, she called on entities such as EMGS to be more active in promoting the Malaysian education brand at the international level.

Meanwhile, EMGS chief executive officer Radzlan Jalaludin said the company was committed to achieving greater success in its efforts to promote Malaysia as the higher education hub of choice globally.

He said since its inception in 2012 until today, EMGS has advanced aggressively to improve its services as the main body managing the movement of international students in Malaysia, including facilitating the visa management process.

“The achievement can be seen by the number of applications which has surpassed the target for 2021 where a total of 40,000 applications were received from international students to further their studies at Malaysian IPTs.

“This is indeed a great success for EMGS and we will continue to support the government’s aspiration to meet the target of 250,000 international students by 2025,” he said. 

Source: Bernama

Malaysia continues to be the preferred choice for international students

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Taiwan-based Wiwynn Corp will set up a printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) plant for cloud data centres with an investment value of RM300 million in Johor.

State Investment, Trade and Consumer Affairs Committee chairman Lee Ting Han said the plant is expected to create about 1,100 jobs.

“Johor is increasingly becoming a hotspot for data centre investment, and the reason is that the state is able to meet the needs of world-class high-tech companies, apart from adequate utilities and land.

“Wiwynn’s investment and their presence in Johor will bring international exposure and attract more similar or related investments to the state,” he said in a statement today.

Earlier, Lee attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the facility at Senai Airport City in Kulai.

He said the location of the facility in Kulai, which serves as Wiwynn’s regional hub in the Asia Pacific region, would place Johor on the global map as an infrastructure manufacturing base related to data centres.

Wiwynn will use the Green Building Index technology to enable smart manufacturing and sustainable operations in the state and Lee believes that this would set a new benchmark in the industry.

He also said Wiwynn plans to work with institutions of higher learning such as Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), including providing training opportunities for graduates to realise their potential in the state.

Lee said the state government would like to thank Invest Johor, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA), Kulai Municipal Council, Senai Airport City and others for their hard work to make the investment a success.

“In total, the value of Wiwynn’s investment in Johor is RM500 million, creating 1,600 job opportunities for the people of Johor,” he said. 

On Dec 20, 2021, it was reported that Wiwynn would develop 4,806 hectares of land in Senai that houses an integrated server rack factory with an investment of RM200 million, and create about 500 jobs.

Source: Bernama

Wiwynn invests RM300 mln to build PCBA manufacturing facility in Johor

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Sabah, Johor, and Penang are the popular locations for commercial investors to invest in, aside from the Klang Valley, according to Knight Frank Malaysia’s 2022 ‘Malaysia Commercial Real Estate Investment Sentiment Survey (CREISS)’ released on June 27.

The survey was carried out across the country’s commercial property industry and aims to comprehend current sentiments towards the commercial real estate sector as well as where it may lead in the near future. Among the factors affecting this sector are the present low interest rates, with an overnight policy rate at 1.75% to 2% at the time of writing, the multiplier effect of ongoing mega projects and continued foreign direct investments into Malaysia.

In a statement, Knight Frank Malaysia executive director of research and consultancy Amy Wong said: “People appear to have a better risk appetite for alternative investments in the next two to three years. The survey revealed almost equal interest to participate in serviced residences/hotels, co-working/flexible offices, senior living/retirement homes and data centres.”

In regard to capital value, more than two-thirds of the respondents (76%) expect the industrial and logistics sub-sectors to enjoy capital value appreciations in 2022, with slightly more than half of the respondents (57%) also anticipating the same for the healthcare sub-sector. In terms of the yield performance, 68% of respondents expected yields to increase in the logistics sub-sector, with anticipated higher yields for the healthcare and industrial sub-sectors.

Predictably, these opinions are comparable on increase in rents, with rents of logistics properties expected to increase, according to 64% of respondents, and 53% of them also agreeing that increases are expected in the industrial sub-sector, in line with growing demand for space in these two sub-sectors.

There are similar expectations in the occupancy rate for the same two sub-sectors, and it is worth highlighting that there is a predicted reduction in occupied office space due to the reality of continued pressure on occupancy rates and rents as supply continues to outpace demand. These views are unsurprisingly echoed in the predictions on the market itself.

Wong stated that through this survey, which highlights the logistics and industrial sub-sectors as the favourites, respondents have expressed their confidence that these sub-sectors will be the quickest to recover within the next 12 months, along with the healthcare sub-sector. Whereas the traditional sub-sectors of hotel/leisure, office and retail are seen by respondents as a long-term play.

Knight Frank Malaysia group managing director Sarkunan Subramaniam added: “As we navigate the new economy in a somewhat changed world that is anticipating further disruption, there is a need to cultivate resilience in real estate portfolios, which is to anticipate risk and minimise disruption in an increasingly complex world. The growing awareness and adoption of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) frameworks in the real estate industry will help drive the value of sustainable real estate into the future.”

Source: The Edge Markets

Sabah, Johor, Penang, Klang Valley are the best locations to invest

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US chip giant Intel has been a household name and leader in the local tech industry since setting up camp in Malaysia 50 years ago. Eric Chan, vice-president of Internet of Things Group (IoTG) at Intel Corp in Penang, says the company grew as a steward of Moore’s law, which was the primary driving force for the company to continue to progressively develop its semiconductor technology.

Moore’s law states that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles about every two years, though the cost of computers is halved. In 1965, Gordon E Moore, a co-founder of Intel, made this observation that became known as Moore’s Law.

Last year, Intel CEO Patrick Paul Gelsinger unveiled IDM 2.0, a major evolution of Intel’s integrated device manufacturing (IDM) model. Shweta Khurana, Intel senior director for Asia-Pacific and Japan, government partnerships and initiatives, global government affairs, says this allows the company to have the depth and breadth of everything tech, including software, silicon, platforms, packaging and process at scale.

Today, there are four technology superpowers — artificial intelligence (AI), ubiquitous computing, pervasive connectivity and cloud-to-edge infrastructure. More importantly, there is a focus on digital-readiness, which means these superpowers need superheroes, says Shweta.

“We are trying to develop human capital according to Intel’s Digital Readiness programme portfolio and delimit everybody’s imagination and empower them with skills on these superpowers,” she explains.

Over the past 50 years, Intel has continually invested in Malaysia and recently announced an additional RM30 billion investment. In addition to developing its manufacturing and research capabilities, Intel has also been particularly focused on enhancing Malaysia’s digital talent pool.

The rapid development and adoption of technology has made technology quotient as important as intelligence quotient (IQ), as technological processes have been seamlessly woven into our lives. This means digital-readiness is important for everyone, from senior citizens to digital natives.

Intel has programmes running in nine countries, says Shweta, where it collaborates with governments to launch and drive large-scale digital-readiness initiatives. These initiatives focus mainly on developing human capital on new age technologies and emerging technologies like AI.

“We get talents ready for jobs of the future. We work with the current workforce, future workforce and children in schools as young as 13, just to ensure that we make technology more inclusive. The idea is not to get everybody ready to be a developer but to learn how to live and navigate in a world fuelled by emerging technologies like AI,” she explains.

“We’re surrounded by AI, and Intel announced a global goal to expand digital-readiness and really make technology inclusive for 30 million people by 2030 to help nations achieve their SDG (sustainable development goals).”

Lack of talent still a challenge

On a local level, Chan says, most companies say talent is never enough, which he believes is a good thing, as it is an indication that the economy is growing and there is still demand for technical skills. He adds that this is something seen around the world as well.

“This is exactly why we’re having outreach programmes and working closely with universities, where we share our curriculum. We have a challenge, not just in the industry but in universities as well, to create graduates that are ready to embark on their career and enter the workforce.

“On top of making requests to the government, we ourselves have to lean in to make sure that we are helping prepare graduates to be ready for this huge demand.”

Shweta concurs, adding that there is a global digital skills crisis. The primary reason is that countries or governments today recognise that AI is going to add value to their gross domestic product (GDP). 

But the transformational value of AI for any economy can only be realised when the human capital of that country not only understands but also trusts the technology, she adds.

“Otherwise, technology will be there just for the sake of having technology in large-scale projects, which would not make sense. So, keeping that in mind, what Intel has decided to do is develop human capital on emerging technologies,” says Shweta.

Intel has built an end-to-end digital-readiness portfolio, tackling many sectors of society. It starts with programmes like AI for citizens, which is basic public awareness of how to get citizens to learn digital skills and trust them, navigate in a digital world and how to use these skills responsibly.

Shweta says there are three verticals for digital-readiness — learning and trusting skills, trusting the emerging technology space in entirety and learning how to use it responsibly. She adds that the programme covers topics and issues such as ethics, inclusivity and access to technology.

“We also have programmes like AI for youth, which is to allow youth in high school to learn and apply skills to start community projects, and AI for the future workforce, which is for youth who are just about to join the workforce. The most recent programme we launched was digital-readiness for government leaders, because they are the ones who really drive AI for good governance in any given country. So, they need to understand not just the advantages, but also the potential pitfalls,” she explains.

According to Oxford Insights’ 2021 AI Readiness Index, which ranks 160 countries by how prepared their governments are to use AI in public services, Malaysia ranked 36th. The index’s researchers also found that nearly 40% of countries included in the index either have published or are drafting national AI strategies, and that East Asian countries showed particular strength in AI, making up one-quarter of the top 20 ranked countries.

Collaborating with schools and universities

Chan says Intel’s programmes are open to all and they have been receiving a lot of interest from third or final year students. He adds that Intel also offers development kits and mentorship for students to do their final-year projects on Intel’s platform.

Intel has a collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education for the Innovate Malaysia Design competition, where university students submit their final-year projects to be judged by industry experts. Chan says this provides students with real-world project experience beyond the classroom.

“Intel and a lot of other companies over here are leaning in to extend ourselves because while universities have done a good job, when graduates enter the real world, they need a bit of hands-on training. So, we’re bridging the gap and getting them prepared for the real job market.”

Intel has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Collaborative Research and Engineering Science and Technology Centre (CREST) — a research institute in Bayan Lepas, Penang — to launch Intel’s AI for Youth in Malaysia. Shweta says the programme is designed to empower non-technical youth with appropriate AI skill sets, mindsets and toolsets. 

“We give them enough knowledge and access to tools, where they can identify the challenges they see around them, their schools and communities and come up with solutions using what they learnt.”

Shweta says that when the company shares knowledge with students who possibly do not have any prior coding experience, it works because, today, technology has evolved to a stage where people are working with low code or no code applications for AI. The understanding, creativity and ability to be very empathetic towards a problem these students see around them is enough of a starter for them to think of how to use an emerging technology to adapt, adopt and apply.

“Last year, at Intel’s AI Global Impact Festival, a global winner came from Malaysia. His idea was to build an AI system, which is embedded in an automobile to monitor the carbon dioxide emissions and send alert messages in case there’s a rise in the level. His aim was noble, which is to reduce one’s carbon footprint by effective monitoring, tracking and contributing to a larger goal of building an eco-friendly system.

“What we are now working on is how we do IoT as one of the components. We realise that the projects are coming from youths who are future developers and they need an element of IoT, as many of them are using AI and blockchain, among others. And these ideas come from the ground and we will then help them navigate the learning journey of how to develop those skills and take it further.”

What is important here, says Shweta, is to gear the current generation to become technically confident to apply the skills they learn. And while a mobile phone may be enough for students to learn new skills via videos, a device with higher computing power is preferred.

She says: “We need people who can create algorithms. We don’t want a generation that only knows how to use technology but want one that also knows how to create new technology. Here, we’re talking about learning technical confidence in AI and enhancing employability, which means it involves social skills where ethics comes into play.

“Most importantly, we need to learn how to produce evidence of those skills for employability. For that, they work on capstone projects, like trade applications, insurance fraud detection, predictive maintenance, and that’s not possible on a handphone, unfortunately.”

Source: The Edge Markets

Talent: Making Malaysia future ready for AI

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The Malaysian-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) will continue to maintain its multi-racial quality and work together to promote Malaysia-China relations as well as economic and trade development.

Newly-elected president Loo Kok Seong said the council has set five main priorities for the next three years, including to capitalise on new business opportunities arising from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP).

“The MCCC would be organising a China-ASEAN Products Exhibition, to be held in Malaysia to expand the market for our members,” he said in a statement today.

He said other priorities include working closely with government agencies such as the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) and Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) for the circulation of information and building a one-stop marketplace platform for business opportunities.

Loo said the MCCC would also organise relevant digital economy seminars and hold at least two business delegations to China to promote a working relationship and to explore possibilities for trade and investment opportunities.

“With these five key plans in place and a harmonious working relationship within the team, the new national council is optimistic that our members will benefit from better opportunities to attain greater heights,” he added.

Loo was elected as president of the 13th national council for the term 2022-2025, succeeding Datuk Tan Yew Sing.

Source: Bernama

MCCC to continue promote Malaysia-China relation, economic and trade development

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The Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA) and Kedah State Development Corporation (PKNK) today announced the Kedah Science and Technology Park (KSTP) Phase 2 development plan.

Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor said the NCIA-led project in an area of ​​more than 840 acres in Bukit Kayu Hitam is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 2022 and will be fully completed for investors by 2024.

“This cooperation agreement will see NCIA develop the infrastructure and continue to provide support on projects that will attract high value investors to the state.

“NCIA will also work with several government agencies including the State Economic Planning Division (BPEN) to promote KSTP and welcome domestic and foreign investors in the large and medium scale,“ he told reporters here today.

Earlier, he witnessed the KSTP Phase 2 development cooperation agreement document exchange ceremony between NCIA chief executive Mohamad Haris Kader Sultan and PKNK chief executive officer Datuk Syed Yussof Syed Othman.

Muhammad Sanusi said he hoped the cooperation would accelerate the development of sectors that could help revive the state’s economy after being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This shows the commitment of the state government and NCIA to make Kedah a hub for research and development and commercialisation, and manufacturing. The KSTP will further strengthen Kedah’s attractiveness to investors,“ he said.

Meanwhile, Mohamad Haris said KSTP Phase 2 would focus on investment clusters for the agro-food, biotechnology and nanotechnology sectors.

“We already have big-name investors interested which we will announce later. Phase 1 of the project in an area of ​​240 acres led by PKNK was fully completed in September last year and there will be Phase 3 in an area of ​​more than 770 acres which involves future development,“ he said.

Overall, KSTP is expected to achieve investments of RM12.9 billion and create more than 23,000 jobs covering a total area of ​​more than 1,851 acres which is expected to continue to drive and boost the Northern Corridor Economic Region as a preferred investment destination in Malaysia.

Source: Bernama

NCIA, PKNK announce Kedah Science and Technology Park Phase 2 development plan

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Malaysia is on the right trajectory to secure more high-quality and capital-intensive projects, with the electrical and electronics (E&E) segment to continue being a key growth driver for the economy.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) chief executive officer Datuk Arham Abdul Rahman said Malaysia is the sixth largest exporter of semiconductors and integrated circuits (ICs) in the world, accounting for 6.3% of the world’s total exports, and this will continue to support the E&E industry as it represents 61.7% of export products.

“Based on current negotiations with potential investors, many of which are multinational companies (MNCs), we are optimistic that the investment figure for 2022 will also be big, albeit not at last year’s record level and that the E&E segment will continue to be the largest contributor of investment approved this year.

“The global shortage of semiconductor is expected to last until the end of December 2023 and consumer demand continues to be high. Therefore companies are looking to invest to ramp up their production to meet the demand,” he told Bernama on the sidelines of the recently concluded SEMICON Southeast Asia 2022, which was held from June 21 to 23.

Arham said foreign investors’ confidence continues to grow because Malaysia has one of the most comprehensive ecosystems in the region in the E&E, machinery and equipment, aerospace, automotive, and medical device industries, while the National Investment Aspirations will certainly pave the way towards attracting more quality investments.

He said MIDA foresees more foreign investors coming to Malaysia, following footsteps of the world’s largest and most cutting-edge electronics companies, namely Intel, ST Microelectronics, Infineon, Micron, Texas Instruments, TF-AMD, and Osram.

The approved investments for the E&E industry were valued at RM18.6 billion in the first quarter of this year and a total of 13,700 job opportunities are expected to be created from these projects, while in the long run, the E&E industry is targeted to contribute RM120 billion to gross domestic product and generate RM495 billion in export earnings by 2025.

Meanwhile, Arham highlighted that there are two particular challenges faced by the E&E industry, namely shortage of skilled talent and land scarcity.

To address the talent issue, he said MIDA is working closely with local universities and training centres to meet the demand of both local and MNC players to establish more industrial training and learning programmes.

“Land scarcity is another challenge that we are working to overcome. Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow has announced that the state government is currently identifying new areas to accommodate the needs of the industry and support the E&E ecosystem,” he said.

On overall foreign direct investment, Arham said Malaysia attracted a total of RM42.8 billion approved investments in the manufacturing, service, and primary sectors involving 910 projects from January to March 2022.

Moving forward, MIDA had identified 446 high-profile investment prospects including Fortune 500 companies in the manufacturing and service sectors with a combined potential investment value of RM150.4 billion as of June 1, 2022.

“Malaysia’s stellar performance despite the challenging years is a strong testament to Malaysia remaining as an attractive investment destination due to its cohesive business environment, friendly investor policies, and effective pandemic measures.

“MIDA will continue to introduce innovative measures to ease the challenges of operating businesses in the country while encouraging and facilitating the adoption and adaptation of technology, innovation, and research by companies,” he added.

Source: Bernama

E&E segment will continue to be key growth driver for Malaysia — MIDA

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Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong will lead a trade and investment mission to Mexico and Peru from tomorrow until July 5, 2022.

The mission is part of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s (MITI) continuous effort to expand trade and investment opportunities in the Latin American market.

“The trade and investment mission would be focusing on broad linkage opportunities as well as exploring new markets for our exports as part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) trade pact,” according to a MITI statement today.

It said Ban Hong is scheduled to have bilateral meetings with his counterparts in Mexico and Peru to discuss ways to further increase bilateral trade and investment cooperation between Malaysia and the countries.

The focus would be on Malaysia’s capabilities and capacities in strategic sectors, including electrical and electronics (E&E), electric vehicle segment, digital economy and automotive industry.

Mexico is Malaysia’s second-largest trading partner in Latin America, which saw a two-fold increase in bilateral trade within the past decade.

In 2021, Malaysia recorded a substantial increase in total trade with Mexico to reach RM13.89 billion (US$3.35 billion) compared to 2020, contributed by higher exports of E&E products and manufactures of metal.

Total exports in 2021 increased by 37.9 per cent to RM11.59 billion (US$2.79 billion), while total imports increased by 35.9 per cent to RM2.3 billion (US$0.56 billion) compared with the year earlier.

In 2021, Peru was Malaysia’s top six largest trading partners in Latin America.

Despite the decline in global trade caused by the pandemic, Malaysia recorded a commendable increase of 13.5 per cent in total trade with Peru compared to 2020, to reach RM1.22 billion (US$0.29 billion). This was largely contributed by higher exports of rubber products, petroleum products and processed food.

Malaysia’s exports to Peru increased by 21.8 per cent to RM790 million (US$190 million), while imports from Peru were maintained at RM430 million (US$100 million) compared to 2020.

Source: Bernama

Deputy minister to lead trade and investment mission to Mexico, Peru

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The biocomposites industry in Malaysia has been growing rapidly, recording exports worth RM4.3 billion last year, or 19% of the total timber exports value of RM22.74 billion.

Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng said the major exporters of biocomposite products, comprising plywood, veneer and fibreboard, are the United States, Japan, China and Singapore.

“There are 176 plywood factories, seven factories each producing chipboards and fibreboards, and three wood plastic composite (WPC) factories in the country for producing biocomposite raw materials, especially for the furniture and construction sectors.

“At the global level, the country is ranked fifth as a plywood exporter, 17th for fibreboard and 29th for chipboard,” he told reporters after officiating the construction of a food and beverage kiosk made from WPC here on Friday (June 24). The project is a collaboration involving the Malaysian Timber Industry Board, Port Dickson Municipal Council and Perceptive Profile Sdn Bhd.

Wee also said that the WPC market is expected to see sustained global growth over the next five years, driven by the growth of the construction and building sector, especially in North America and Europe.

According to him, the sector is expected to be the largest WPC consumer, along with the automotive sector for its light automotive components. Consumers, too, have started using WPC as a measure to preserve the environment because it is made from recycled materials, he said.

Wee, who expressed optimism that WPC will be the focus of importing countries in tandem with the rise in demand for environmentally-friendly timber products from developed countries, said more initiatives need to be implemented to introduce wood products to the global market.

WPC products are environmentally-friendly timber alternatives and are produced from two main materials, namely natural wood and plastic fibres.

He said the MTIB, in collaboration with private companies, will develop housing units from biocomposite products that are waterproof, durable and termite-resistant, known as FAST (friendly, affordable, system and technology).

Estimated to cost between RM70,000 and RM100,000 per unit, these houses will initially be built in Pahang before being introduced in other states.

In another development, Wee said the government is constantly monitoring the situation to stabilise palm oil prices in the market where the price of fresh fruit bunches had dropped to RM1,000 per metric tonne as of June 22.

“(The price of) oil palm depends on international market supply and demand, and the government is making efforts to boost prices, especially ex-farm prices. I am confident that if the government can stabilise the ex-farm prices, it will help smallholders,” he said.

Source: Bernama

Biocomposites industry records exports worth RM4.3 bil in 2021

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