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Factories in SE Asia are firing up as China reopens

Asia’s manufacturers are improving at the start of the year as the region becomes more optimistic about the boost from China’s reopening, while activity in the euro area shows the downturn is softening as cost pressures ease. 

Factories in South-East Asia (SE Asia) ramped up production and purchasing in January as new orders piled in, data from S&P Global manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Indexes (PMI) showed on Jan 1. Signs that prices are softening and supply chain disruptions are easing also lifted business confidence for factory output over the next 12 months. 

The gauge for the eurozone improved for the third consecutive month, rising to 48.8 from 47.8 in December. Numbers were on an upward trend across the region. 

The reading for French factories went above 50 for the first time since August, while Italy reversed six months of negative readings. The manufacturing slump in Germany continued for a seventh month, however, although the reading of 47.3 was an unexpected improvement from 47.1 in December. 

The energy market in Europe has stabilised, thanks in part to mild weather and state subsidies, and supply-chain constraints have eased significantly, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence chief business economist Chris Williamson. Business optimism about the year ahead has also surged higher. 

“Although euro-area manufacturers continued to report falling output and deteriorating orderbooks in January, sustaining the sector’s downturn for an eighth successive month, the picture is considerably brighter than the lows seen back in last October,” he said. 

Thailand led SE Asia with a January PMI reading of 54.5 — a jump from 52.5 the prior month. The Philippines and Indonesia also posted readings above 50, the threshold separating expansion from contraction. 

Other countries in the region remained in negative territory last month, but most saw manufacturing conditions improve. Malaysia was the only country in the region where conditions worsened as PMI fell to a 17-month low of 46.5. 

“With supply-side pressures easing, and inflation rates below their post-pandemic averages, this could support further improvements in business conditions in the months ahead,” S&P Global Market Intelligence economist Maryam Baluch said of SE Asia’s performance. “It’s vital that demand conditions continue to recover and are able to support growth momentum into the rest of 2023.” 

Activity in North Asia, however, was more mixed. South Korea’s manufacturing PMI improved slightly to 48.5 from December’s 48.2, although still below 50. Japan was steady at 48.9, the same as the previous month. 

Surveys for both countries, though, suggested that factories were increasing employment in anticipation of improving global economic conditions that would spur new business. That was better than the outlook in Taiwan, where the PMI slump deepened to 44.3 from 44.6. Manufacturers there held a sombre outlook, trimming their buying activity and inventory. 

The data provide a sharper view of how the global demand outlook is impacting some of the world’s most critical trade engines. 

The International Monetary Fund reiterated last week that tight monetary policy among central banks and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will continue to weigh on economic activity through the year. 

The Washington-based institution still upgraded its global growth forecast slightly, though, in part on optimism that China’s reopening will buttress demand. The emergence of the world’s second-largest economy from its strict Covid Zero strategy last year has also raised hopes in Asia that the region’s biggest trading partner will soon generate more demand for goods. 

“If the message from Jan 31’s strong official PMIs was that China has started a brisk recovery, the message from Feb 1’s Caixin report is that a significant swath of the economy continues to struggle,” said Bloomberg Economics Chang Shu. “To be sure, the rise in the Caixin manufacturing gauge in January reinforces our view that conditions are on the mend. But a reading still below 50 in contractionary territory suggests exporters and small companies are lagging in the recovery.” 

Data in China showed some signs of a pickup last month, though the week-long Chinese New Year holiday likely weighed on factory activity since many workers went home to celebrate the period with their families. Covid’s spread through the country also sickened some workers. 

A private survey of factory activity on Feb 1 showed the sector had yet to recover, though the fall in output and new orders moderated. The Caixin Manufacturing Index — which covers mainly smaller and export-oriented businesses — inched up to 49.2 in January from 49 the month before. The official PMI, which covers larger and state-owned firms, showed a slight expansion earlier last week.

Source: Bloomberg

Factories in SE Asia are firing up as China reopens


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OM Holdings Ltd (OMH) stands to gain indirectly from China’s border reopening, as demand for its products is set to rise while the prices of its materials shhould rally this year.

After enjoying a solid price rally in the first half of financial year 2022 (1HFY22) due to Russia-Ukraine war-led power crisis, product prices have fallen since then in 2HFY22 and stagnated for the past four months.

This could signal that prices are bottoming, nited researchers with Kenanga Investment Bank Bhd (Kenanga Research).

“In 2HFY22, prices of FeSi and silicomanganese (SiMn) fell 20 and 31 per cent respectively, to average of US$1,682 per metric tonne (MT) and US$1,063 per MT from US$2,112 per MT and US$1,545 per MT in 1HFY22,” it said.

“With China’s reopening, demand should pick up further helping to bring average selling prices (ASPs) higher while higher Chinese costs on strengthening yuan should support FeSi price while destocking exercise likely to keep SiMn price elevated.”

To note, OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd (OM Sarawak) is OMH’s flagship smelter complex in Samalaju, Sarawak. Construction commenced in 2013, and first production was tapped in 2014.

The plant consists of eight main workshops, with two units of 25.5 MVA furnaces in each. Out of the 16 furnaces, 10 are allocated for the production of ferrosilicon, and 6 for the production of manganese alloys.

Commissioned and built to anticipate the current paradigm shift in global ferroalloy production, OM Sarawak is a greenfield smelter located in the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy, Sarawak, Malaysia. Run on renewable hydro-power, it is in the centre of South East Asia and well sited along global trade routes.

In other corporate updates, within 2022, OMH had completed two idle ferrosilicon (FeSi) furnaces to manganese alloys (Mn Alloys) and two others idle FeSi furnaces to metallic silicon (MetSi) furnaces.

The first MetSi furnace is currently undergoing hot commissioning and performance testing. The commercial commissioning of MetSi is likely to be in 2QFY23.

“Although installed capacity for MetSi furnace is half that of FeSi furnace, the net production economics is expected to be same as MetSi fetches far better margin than FeSi, according to OMH based on their observation of its Chinese peers.

“In 2022, overall plant utilisation at OM Sarawak is 75 per cent as four Mn Alloys furnaces were undergoing major maintenance coupled with the abovementioned MetSi conversion.

“Going into 2023, the company expects the utilisation rate to maintain around the same as eight furnaces will undergo major maintenance in phases throughout the year.

“However, production should improve as skilled workers from China are expected to arrive soon after China’s border reopened.”

Meanwhile, the company also said should ASP spike up, it would delay the maintenance work so that it is able to capture the benefit of high ASP.

Kenanga Research maintained its FY22 earnings which it believed has adequately reflected a weak 2HFY22 given the weak sales on a double-hammy of a weak volume and ASP.

“We continue to like OMH for its structural cost advantage over its international peers given its access to low-cost hydro-power under a 20-year contract ending 2033; its strong growth prospects underpinned by plans to expand its capacity by 30 to 36 per cent per annum over the medium term; and its appeal to investor given its clean energy source.”

Source: Borneo Post

OMH Sarawak to gain from China’s reopening


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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s maiden official visit to Bangkok, Thailand starting Thursday is set to further advance bilateral relations between the two neighbours and help them reach their 2025 goal of US$30 billion (RM126 billion) in bilateral trade.

Deputy secretary-general to Thai Prime Minister and acting government spokesperson Anucha Burapachaisri, in a statement, said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan o-cha and Anwar would hold a bilateral meeting at the Government House on Thursday.

He said the two prime ministers are expected to discuss cooperation on promotion and integration of economic development along the Thai — Malaysian border, particularly the five southern provinces of Thailand (Yala, Narathiwat, Pattani, Songkhla and Satun) and the four Northern States of Malaysia (Perlis, Kedah, Penang and Perak).

“These include connectivities in trade, investment and infrastructure to achieve the bilateral trade target of US$30 billion by 2025 through existing bilateral mechanism, trade facilitation and promotion of cooperation in potential industries such as rubber, halal food and energy as well as in new areas such as digital economy and green technology,” he said.

Anucha added that both leaders would also exchange views on regional and international developments to jointly address new challenges and stimulate post-Covid-19 economic recovery.

This is Anwar’s fourth international official visit after Indonesia, Brunei and Singapore since he was sworn in as the 10th Prime Minister in November 24, last year. 

Source: Bernama

PM Anwar’s visit to further advance Malaysia-Thailand bilateral cooperation


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Petroleum Sarawak Berhad (Petros) will be exploring how the state can further develop the oil and gas (O&G) industry in Miri, including on land.

In stating this, Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg also said Petros is planning to re-visit the potentials on land, apart from the offshore activities.

“With the setting up of own gas and oil exploration company namely Petros, we will be exploring how we can further develop the oil and gas industry in Miri, including on land.

“Miri’s oil and gas industry in fact started on land in 1910 and moved offshore in the 1970s. Petros is planning to re-visit the potentials on land, apart from offshore activities,” he said in his speech at the Federation of Miri Division Chinese Associations Chinese New Year Dinner at Eastwood Valley Golf and Country Club (EVGCC) last night.

Abang Johari’s text of speech was read by Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

Reassuring Miri folk that their needs are always close to his heart, Abang Johari said under the Post Covid-19 Development Strategy 2030 (PCDS 2030), one of its pillars is social inclusivity.

“Like other cities and towns in the state, Miri is also benefitting a great deal under this policy of inclusivity through the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).

“For Miri Division, Unifor since 2017 until 2022 has given out grants totalling RM34 million for 245 projects as well as another RM9 million had been dispensed for 11 people projects in the division,” he added.

Under this PCDS 2030, Abang Johari said there are a number of catalytic projects such as the enhancing of port productivity and service efficiency in the state.

“In this respect, I have announced earlier of my approval of a project to dredge and deepen and build training bunds on both sides of the Kuala Baram Access Channel leading to Miri Port Terminal.

“With a deepened and improved depth by five metres chart datum (CD) plus the tidal range of 2.0 to 2.5 metres, 70 per cent of vessels can ply the Kuala Baram channel and Miri Port can handle container ships up to 1000 TEUs (length 160 metres) as compared to the present of about 100 TEUs only,” he added.

He said the project, for which an estimated sum of RM238 million has been allocated, will help to mitigate flooding problems in Marudi and upper Baram areas.

“When completed, it will also be a new lifeline for more industrial activities including the small and medium size industries. This will contribute to lower shipping, transportation and logistics costs which translates to lowering costs to the consumers.”

In addition to that, Abang Johari said he wants the people continue to be united and work closely together for a stronger, better and more progressive Sarawak.

“Let us join hands to strongly rally behind our state Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) government so that all efforts to transform Sarawak into a high-income society by 2030 can come to fruition.”

During the event Uggah presented government grants worth RM5,000 each to Riam Road Secondary School and SM Pei Min.

Also present were Deputy Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Development I (Women and Childhood Development) Datuk Rosey Yunus, Deputy Minister of Local Government Datuk Dr Penguang Manggil, Pujut assemblyman Adam Yii, China Deputy Consul General in Kuching Song Changhong, Sarawak United People Party (SUPP) Lambir branch chairman Penghulu Lee Thin Hin representing Deputy Minister of Tourism, Creative Industries and Performing Arts I Datuk Sebastian Ting, Federation of Miri Division Chinese Associations’ president Datuk David Goh and organising chairman Tie Hun Tuan.

Source: Borneo Post

Abang Jo: Petros to look into further developing O&G industry in Miri


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Malaysia is confident of achieving positive growth and avoid a recession this year despite having to navigate through global headwinds.

Even though the country’s economic growth this year is projected to moderate compared with 2022, International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said he was optimistic that Malaysia would not face a recession.

“On the issue of recession, I am optimistic there will not be (one)…the definition of a recession is two successive quarters of negative GDP (gross domestic product) growth.

“Bank Negara Malaysia, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank have projected for Malaysia to continue achieving positive economic growth in the 3-5 per cent range.

“I do not think we are going to face a recession. However, compared with the growth we achieved in 2022, there will be some moderation.

“Therefore we need to take this opportunity to ensure all of our engines of growth keep firing especially in terms of trade and investment,” he told Bernama during his recent visit to Penang.

In 2022, Malaysia’s total trade surpassed the RM2 trillion mark for the second consecutive year when it registered RM2.8 trillion, with exports reaching RM1.6 trillion, exceeding 12th Malaysia Plan projections, and imports reaching nearly RM1.3 trillion.

During his two-day (Feb 3-4) visit to Penang, Tengku Zafrul said he held meetings with top state officials and industry players to discuss efforts to strengthen the industrial ecosystem here as it is one of the leading investment destinations for the electrical and electronics (E&E) and medical technology sectors.

“We need to attract high quality investment that can provide jobs to our people and increase the national income. We also want this FDI (foreign direct investment) to be translated into DDI (domestic direct investment).

“If possible, we want to develop small-and-medium enterprises that can provide services and become suppliers to multinational corporations operating here.

“Penang is the best example for this where there are multinational companies that work together with small companies until these companies are able to grow and be listed on the stock exchange,” he said.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia confident of positive growth and avoiding recession in 2023 despite global headwinds: Tengku Zafrul


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Malaysia can become the automotive hub for the Asean market, said Minister of International Trade and Industry Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

He said this prospect has attracted investors and car companies such as Porsche, KIA, Hyundai, Mini Cooper, Mazda, and BMW to start their respective operations in Malaysia.

“Southeast Asia offers good growth potential and with policies as well as good ecosystem, Malaysia can become an automotive hub for the Asean market,“ he said in his Facebook’s post yesterday.

Tengku Zafrul also shared several photos of his visit to car assembler, Inokom Corporation Sdn Bhd, in Kulim.

According to him, many local residents who are skilful are working at the company and the government will focus on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) to enable more people in the country to increase their respective skills.

This will be beneficial for investment and industry growth in the country, he said.

Earlier, Tengku Zafrul also paid a courtesy call on Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi Md Nor at the mentri besar’s official residence in Seri Mentaloon, here.

Tengku Zafrul said he is in Kedah to visit several industries in the state.

“Before proceeding with the visits, we paid a courtesy call to the ‘host’ first — Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Muhammad Sanusi, at his official residence, Seri Mentaloon. This is my first visit to Kedah as the Minister of International Trade and Industry.

“We have discussions on the direction of the local industries and shared views to boost investment and industries, including prospering the ‘Negara Madani’ programme in Kedah,“ he said.

Tengku Zafrul was hopeful his visit would foster closer ties between the ministry and the Kedah state government in enhancing the nation’s investment and industrial sectors.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia poised to become automotive hub for Asean market: Tengku Zafrul


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Airod Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) group, is eyeing potential long-term MRO business worth US$300mil (RM1.3bil) following the recent signing of a commitment of cooperation agreement with its Indonesian partner, PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI).

Over the short term, the agreement is expected to yield US$10mil (RM43mil) from the refurbishment, training and technical assistance related to the Indonesian Armed Forces’ fleet of C-130 aircraft, it said in a statement, Bernama reported.

The agreement was signed in Jakarta on Jan 8 between Airod senior vice-president Datuk Edron Hayata Ahmad and PTDI chief executive officer Gita Amperiawan, and witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim during his official visit to Indonesia.

“The cooperation will witness the growth in MRO activities between Airod and PTDI in areas of upgrades and modification, aero structure and composites for various types of heavy and also light aircraft in the future,” it said.It said prior to the latest agreement, both parties had signed a memorandum of understanding on Aug 2 2021 to collaborate on a five-year maintenance programme to modernise the Indonesian Air Force fleet of 12 C-130 aircraft.

The modernisation will enable the Indonesian Air Force to extend the use of the aircraft for an additional 15 to 20 years.

On Feb 15 2022, they also signed a general operations agreement to start discussions on technical and financial aspects of the programme.

Source: The Star

Airod, Indonesian partner eye MRO business


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Malaysia and Singapore reaffirmed bilateral cooperation on personal data protection, cyber security, and digital economy on Jan 30 in Singapore.

Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil in a statement today said the Memorandum of Understanding signed by both countries provided a platform for agencies in Malaysia and Singapore to forge deeper cooperation in the three areas.

“The collaboration involves the sharing of information and expertise as well as best practices between Malaysia and Singapore in dealing with the issue of online fraud more effectively and optimising the use of data as a valuable commodity resource in the growth of the country’s digital economy, among other things,” he said.

Fahmi said this following his meeting with Singapore’s Minister of Communications and Information Josephine Teo in Putrajaya today.

Also present were Singapore’s High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon, the Communications and Digital Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Seri Mohammad Mentek and Singapore’s Ministry of Communications and Information Permanent Secretary Joseph Leong.

Meanwhile, Fahmi also welcomed his Singaporean counterpart and her delegation to the 14th Muzika Ekstravaganza concert hosted by Malaysia tonight.

Jointly organised by Radio Television Malaysia (RTM) and MediaCorp Suria Singapura, the concert is aimed at raising the standards of the music industry of both countries through the exchange of expertise and experience and the use of technology in addition to giving exposure to the working cultures of the broadcasting stations. 

Source: Bernama

Malaysia, Singapore reaffirm bilateral cooperation in 3 areas


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Cypark Resources Bhd (CRB) will operate a solid waste modular advanced recovery and treatment waste-to-energy (SMART WTE) plant at Ladang Tanah Merah, Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan.

Its wholly-owned Cypark Smart Technology Sdn Bhd received the confirmation of feed-in-tariff commencement (FiTCD) on Friday (Feb 3) from Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA), the renewable energy firm told Bursa Malaysia.

The SMART WTE is a renewable energy power plant using biomass (solid waste) as feedstock with an installed capacity of 19.7300MW.

According to Cypark, the FiTCD is effective for a period of 16 years from commencement date of Dec 14, 2022. Pursuant to the FiTCD, Tenaga Nasional Bhd will purchase electricity from the company at the pre-agreed feed-in tariff rate.

“The project is expected to have material impact on the earnings and net assets of the CRB group for the financial year ending April 30, 2023 and subsequent financial years for the FiTCD period,” Cypark said.

Earlier this week, Cypark was queried by Bursa Malaysia over the unusual trading volume of its shares. In response, Cypark pointed out that the increase in its share price was due to the emergence of Jakel group’s investment arm as the largest shareholder.

Cypark’s share price has doubled from 54 sen since Jakel Capital Sdn Bhd emerged as the company’s largest shareholder last month, with a 27.33% stake, after it completed a private placement involving 176.65 million new shares, with all the shares acquired by Jakel Capital for RM67.1 million or 38 sen per share.

On Friday, the stock closed at RM1.08 — its highest since June 11, 2021, when the stock closed at RM1.09 — after about 37.66 million shares were traded. At this price, the company has a market capitalisation of RM834.96 million.

Source: The Edge Markets

Cypark gets nod to operate SMART waste-to-energy plant in Port Dickson


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Strengthening Malaysia’s skills supply will be key to preparing the services and manufacturing sectors for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), according to the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas).

Chief executive officer Dr Tricia Yeoh said that as an upper middle-income country, having a sizable semi-skilled workforce backed by a growing skilled workforce is seen as a healthy sign.

“There is an urgency to develop our skilled workforce before we enter into the aged society status, where the trend would be irreversible,” she said in a statement today.

According to the Malaysian think tank, the lack of skilled workers is one of the major factors hampering Malaysia’s ongoing development.

“Given that skills today are both emerging and becoming redundant at a rapid pace, Malaysia’s ability to identify and create those skills must be just as fast. 

“Besides just focusing on technical skills, the Malaysian education system should shift towards a more holistic model which also imparts necessary soft skills such as communications, marketing, teamwork and leadership,” it said.

The research institute also outlined several policy recommendations, including encouraging greater collaboration between the private sector and training institutions, upskilling and reskilling the workforce, and streamlining Malaysia’s current Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programmes.

“A more structured approach in targeting micro, small and medium enterprises with support is also called for,” it said.

Dr Juita Mohamad, the institute’s director of Research, Economics and Business Unit, highlighted several challenges faced by the skills institutions in meeting current and future demands.

“For one thing, the current governance model of the TVET system in Malaysia is complicated, with multiple government ministries overseeing TVET and TVET accreditation systems.

“There is also an inadequate collaboration between industry and skills institutions, which prevents the latter from developing a clear, accurate understanding of what employers are looking for in candidates,” she said.

Juita also added that access to labour market information, including current and future skills, is crucial to ensure that Malaysia’s skills supply can meet the demand.

Source: Bernama

Strengthening skills supply is key to build resilience for IR4.0 — Ideas


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UEM Edgenta Bhd, running true to form to its ‘Edgenta of the Future 2025’ growth agenda in the healthcare support, infrastructure and technology sectors, has entered into three partnerships to help improve the level of Malaysia’s healthcare system to global standards and to strengthen the company’s presence in healthcare support locally and internationally.

Through its Healthcare Support division, the asset management and infrastructure solutions-based company on Friday signed three Memoranda of Business Exploration (MOBE) with WAS, a German-based company that makes special vehicles and ambulances, First Ambulance Services and Optima Electro Hydraulic Ltd Co (Optima Technic) at the Arab Health 2023 exhibition in Dubai.

Since its inception, Edgenta Healthcare Support has been providing non-clinical healthcare support to more than 300 hospitals in Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and India.

WAS is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of special vehicles and ambulances with more than 20 years of experience.

UEM Edgenta is taking advantage of WAS’s technological advances and innovative concepts for ambulances and patient transport vehicles as the latter provides emergency services with safer, more efficient and enhanced user-friendly emergency vehicles to offer better emergency services.

First Ambulance Services is a Malaysian private ambulance outfit, providing integrated, high quality, pre-hospital emergency and medical care, patient transport and medical retrieval services to the Malaysian community, offering fully integrated turnkey solutions for hospital-based smart ambulance services.

Optima Technic, a Turkey-based company, provides various economical mobile solutions in furnishing mobile hospital solutions, mobile military solutions, and designing and manufacturing of mobile engineering solutions and mobile commercial solutions.

UEM Edgenta managing director/chief executive officer Syahrunizam Samsudin said the partnerships with WAS and First Ambulance are aimed at uplifting healthcare services in Malaysia and other regions simultaneously.

“We hope to elevate the country’s healthcare system to be on par with global standards.

“Our combined expertise in healthcare services, digital healthcare and asset management technology will enable us to enhance our healthcare system and improve patient journey, to support Malaysia’s Ministry of Health’s vision, as well as in other regions, mainly the Middle East, Asia, and other countries globally,” he said in a statement here.

As part of Edgenta’s commitment in delivering environmental, social and governance initiatives, Syahrunizam said the company was also exploring the potential of electric vehicle ambulance, in line with the launch of Vision 2030 by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the kingdom’s commitment towards reducing carbon emissions.

“This is a step forward in UEM Edgenta’s continuous aspiration to provide integrated and high-quality emergency medical services, towards a better patient-centric care ecosystem,” he said.

On its partnership with Optima Technic, Syahrunizam said this would help UEM Edgenta to provide better access to safer and fast-built facilities, in line with its healthcare infrastructure upgrade for rural and remote areas where communities lacked basic access to essential health.

Also present at the signing ceremony were UEM Edgenta chief strategy officer Rais Imran, UEM Edgenta chief financial officer Hillary Chua, Edgenta Mediserve MD Shaiful Subhan, Operon Middle East general manager Derrick Wong, WAS MD/CSO Andreas Plöger, First Ambulance Services MD Steven Penafort, and Optima Technic CEO Ismail Tamer.

The Consul General of Malaysia to the United Arab Emirates Fadly Amri, Khazanah Nasional’s Asrul Ab Rahim, Malaysian Investment Development Authority, Dubai, director, Abdul Mukti Abu Bakar, and Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) trade commissioner Megat Iskandar Ahmad Dassilah witnessed the MOBE signing.

Source: Bernama

UEM Edgenta to boost healthcare support in Malaysia, other regions via new partnerships


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As the Malaysian manufacturing sector kicked off the new year with its weakest output performance in 16 months, concerns arise about the future of the sector, which makes up almost a quarter of the domestic economy.

With the rising recessionary fears in advanced economies being a key risk, some also worry that a softer export demand ahead may prolong the slowdown in manufacturing activities, which in turn could water down the country’s economic growth.

Headwinds aside, economists are hopeful that Malaysia’s manufacturing production will eventually recover in coming quarters.

The optimism is premised upon a resilient domestic demand and the positive spillover effect from China’s reopening.

Malaysian manufacturers are also “increasingly optimistic” on the outlook for 2023, according to S&P Global.

S&P Global, which publishes the monthly manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), said manufacturers expect both domestic and external demand conditions to improve as global macroeconomic headwinds dissipate ahead.

“The overall level of confidence rose to the strongest since August 2019 as a result,” it said in an earlier note.

The seasonally adjusted PMI dipped from 47.8 points in December 2022 to 46.5 points in January 2023, indicating a sustained gradual slowdown in manufacturing production and gross domestic product (GDP) growth into the new year.

It is noteworthy that the PMI fell for the fifth straight month in January.

The weaker headline figure was in part due to a stronger moderation in output volumes that was the steepest reported for 16 months.

“Firms commonly attributed muted production to subdued incoming orders,” said S&P Global.

Speaking with StarBiz, Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd chief economist Firdaos Rosli believes that Malaysia’s manufacturing output will go up in the coming months amid China’s reopening news, which will drive demand and ease supply chain pressures.

However, he acknowledged that it will take “a bit more time” to reverse the current trend.

“Malaysia’s production capacity will eventually rise to cater to high demand, thus leading to a better performance in trading activities.

“For the record, we are pencilling in Malaysia’s GDP growth for 2023 to come in at 4.5% sans the positive impact of China’s economic reopening and subsidy rationalisation,” he said.

Firdaos highlighted that the International Monetary Fund had recently revised its global GDP forecast from 2.7% to 2.9% for 2023.

This is in anticipation of softer inflation coupled with the US dollar weakness that could support the global economic outlook.

“Sentiment among business owners or manufacturers could be higher in the immediate timeframe.

“As such, the right thing for the government to do is to ensure that our overall growth is sustained amid external challenges,” he added.

In a note issued yesterday, TA Securities Research said Malaysia’s pessimist PMI performance was in line with some regional peers such as Myanmar and Vietnam.

“Nevertheless, four of the seven Asean nations monitored by the (PMI) survey registered growth across their manufacturing sector in January, namely the Philippines (53.5 points), Thailand (54.5 points), Singapore (51.9 points) and Indonesia (51.3 points).

“As a result, Asean manufacturing firms reported an improvement in operating conditions at the start of this year (51 points),” it said.

TA Research noted that the economic conditions in the country remained muted, as challenging situations across the manufacturing sector limited demand and production at Malaysian manufacturing firms.

However, it expects a continued rise in demand, going forward, mainly due to China reopening, coupled with a sustained rise in domestic spending and business activities to support a resilient outlook.

“For this reason, we are sticking with our prediction that manufacturing in Malaysia will remain in the black this year, albeit at a slower clip,” it said.

Bank Islam’s Firdaos pointed out that Malaysia is not spared from the impact of global growth moderation, being the world’s 24th largest exporter.

He also highlighted that other major exporting countries such as China, the United States, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan were all under 50 manufacturing PMI points in January 2023.

According to Firdaos, Malaysia’s manufacturing PMI seems to suggest the direction of other key economic indicators, notably the Manufacturing Industrial Production Index (IPI) and the Coincident Index (CI).

The IPI, on a month-on-month basis, peaked in June 2022 at 12.76% and has been on a declining trend since August 2022.

The CI, a comprehensive measure of the overall current economic performance, appears to be following a similar trend as well, he said.

On global semiconductor sales, Firdaos said it has been in contraction for six straight months since June last year.

“We foresee that the trend could ease in the upcoming months with China’s economic reopening last month.

“We believe high input and operating costs amid prolonged supply-side constraints, such as elevated commodity prices and supply shortages, will remain the growth headwinds in the coming months,” he added.

Semiconductors represent an important area for the Malaysian economy.

In 2021, semiconductors formed 62% of Malaysia’s total electrical and electronics exports, amounting to RM281.38bil.

Meanwhile, Kenanga Research said the latest manufacturing PMI reading signals a continued slowdown in the manufacturing sector, reflecting a weak start for the first quarter of 2023 amid subdued demand brought by uncertainty in the global economic outlook.

This was further pressured by the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis and the impact of tighter financial conditions on the back of aggressive monetary policy tightening by global central banks.

“Therefore, we maintain our GDP growth projection for 2023 at 4.3%, which reflects a sharp moderation from the 8.6% estimated in 2022.

“Nevertheless, we still expect manufacturing growth to remain on a positive expansion albeit at a slower pace, primarily supported by the continued domestic demand and to benefit from China’s economic reopening,” it said in a note.

Source: The Star

Hope is not lost for manufacturers


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Carmaker Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd (Perodua) intends to maximise its production capacity to 330,000 units this year from 282,019 units last year (14.2% higher) to fulfil outstanding orders carried forward from 2022 and to meet demand so far in 2023.

Perodua president and CEO Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Ahmad said it has 220,000 units of outstanding bookings and is facing difficulties in managing operations because it has reached maximum capacity due to high demand.

“Perodua has earmarked RM10 billion to purchase parts from local suppliers to meet our 2023 targets. Hopefully by maximising our production to 330,000 this year, we will also be able to fulfil our average normal orders,” he said during the Perodua 2023 Outlook Media Conference in Kuala Lumpur today.

In addition, Perodua is targeting sales of more than 314,000 units this year, or 11.3% higher than the preceding year’s 282,019.

Currently, the normal installed annual production capacity for Perodua Manufacturing and Perodua Global Manufacturing plants is at 320,000 units on a two-shift cycle, and Zainal said it can increase the volume by improving productivity and by instituting overtime.

He said the impact of such production growth on the Malaysian automotive industry would be significant as Perodua purchase commitment is expected to encourage the Malaysian automotive ecosystem to improve its production capabilities and quality standards.

“In short, the increase in production will give a much-needed boost for our local industries to improve economies of scale and to better compete with counterparts abroad,” he added.

Zainal also affirmed that Perodua will make sure customers who booked vehicles during the National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana) scheme period and are supposed to get their orders by March 31 will still be able to enjoy the sales and services tax (SST) exemption intended for them.

Based on the waiting period for most brands, as well as the still strong demand for Perodua’s vehicles, Zainal said, total industry volume (TIV) has the potential to reach 700,000 units this year.

“In terms of the overall market, we believe that there is still a bright silver lining for the industry despite the cost pressures. We believe that the TIV can go beyond the 650,000 units announced by the Malaysia Automotive Association,” he added.

Perodua, he said, will not increase the prices of existing models but there will be some price increases for newer models due to new and enhanced specification features rather than due to the impact of inflation or higher material prices.

Perodua has allocated RM1.15 billion in capital expenditure this year to improve its group operations. One key area for improvement is its new business division where Perodua is expanding its Pre-Owned Vehicle and Subscription business.

“We have allocated RM537.1 million for the development of multiple new models that we are planning to launch in 2024 and 2025. In addition, we will allocate RM247.1 million to modernise operations, which also includes upgrading existing 1S (sales showroom) and 2S (service and spare parts centres) into 3S centres (a combination of the two),” he said.

With these improvements planned for its network, Perodua is targeting an increase in its vehicle intake at its service centres.

“For 2023, we target to see an increase in vehicle intakes to 2.8 million units from 2.6 million recorded in 2022. This growth would be a combination of improved service time as well as increasing our service bays throughout the country,” said Zainal.

Source: The Sun Daily

Perodua to ramp up production capacity this year to fulfil order backlog


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Labuan Corp has outlined short and long-term plans to attract foreign investors to the international business and financial centre of Labuan.

Its CEO Rithuan Ismail said among the plans that the agency is taking is to establish closer cooperation with all investment agencies as well as in the economic corridor of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines East Asean Growth Area.

“Through this strategic collaboration, promotion for investment opportunities in Labuan can be utilised especially in targeted industries such as oil and gas, international business and financial centre and tourism,” he said on Bernama TV’s programme, The Brief, in conjunction with Federal Territory Day today.

Rithuan said the approach in the plan also focuses on simplifying the approval process and reducing the bureaucracy of project implementation, holding dialogue sessions and engagement sessions with business chambers, investors and industry players more often by involving agencies such as the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority, embassies and foreign high commissions in Malaysia.

“This is to find a solution to the challenges faced by investors in project implementation,” he ex-plained.

Rithuan said the plan also focuses on studying the potential of foreign investment and strengthening local investment by requesting Malaysia External Trade Development Corp’s assistance to increase global market access by integrating local companies into global chains through strategic collaboration in various international trade/exhibition platforms.

Another strategy is to provide commercial and industrial areas with the involvement of local subsidiaries and developers to provide services to potential investors who are interested in investing in Labuan.

Rithuan said further efforts in the promotion of investment opportunities through advertising in print or electronic media within and outside the country will be implemented; participation in exhibitions related to investments at the domestic and international level; and organise at least one expo/exhibition a year related to investment in collaboration with agencies under the Federal Territories Department.

Source: Bernama

Labuan Corp outlines strategy to attract foreign investors


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Sarawak is on schedule to produce its own methanol for the open market by January, next year, said Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the Sarawak Petchem methanol plant in Tanjung Kidurong is in its final stage of development and will start its trial run in April, this year.

“If it goes as planned, Sarawak will commission methanol production in January 2024,” he told reporters after his working visit to the methanol plant today.

The methanol plant, once in full operation, is capable of producing 5,000 metric tonnes per day or 1.7 million tonnes per year of methanol.

Abang Johari said the methanol plant would also be equipped with a dedicated jetty to allow international tankers or ships to bring methanol to the market.

“We have been able to train the workforce for a relatively sophisticated industry such as petrochemicals,” he added.

The Premier said the 5G network coverage will also be developed in this industrial area.

“Now we have installed 5G in several areas, by 2024 the whole of Kidurong, Samalaju and parts of Bintulu will be upgraded to 5G, with the hope of being able to upgrade to a higher speed.

“This is an important area for Malaysia’s economy, even more so for Sarawak,” he added.

Abang Johari said during a briefing earlier, he was informed a second methanol plant will be built once the first plant is fully developed.

“From the point of view of financing, we have prepared everything, this (methanol plant 2) is a private sector investment, not the government.

“The financial institutions, have high confidence in the efforts of the downstream gas industry in Sarawak,” he added.

Abang Johari believed the future of Sarawak’s oil and gas downstream industry is bright considering that eight out of the 10 new gas areas that were discovered by Petronas are located in Sarawak.

“I believe our feedstock is sufficient, what we need is to use new technology to encourage downstream activities for the petrochemical plant.

“We will develop the petrochemical hub in stages, we will not develop it like in Pengerang but with the will to invest, but we will provide the infrastructure in stages,” he said.

During the event, Abang Johari also presented the certificates of appreciation to six companies for achieving 10 million safe manhours without lost time injury incident on Jan 27 at the Sarawak methanol project.

The six companies were Samsung Engineering Malaysia, China Communications Construction Company (M) Sdn Bhd, Rahabco Engineering and Construction Sdn Bhd, See Energy Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Caya Daya Sdn Bhd and WZS Misi Setia Sdn Bhd.

Among those present were Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Julaihi Narawi, Minister in the Premier’s Department Datuk John Sikie Tayai, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Dato Majang Renggi, Sarawak Petchem Sdn Bhd chairman Tan Sri Datuk Amar Abdul Aziz Dato Husain,  Deputy State Secretary (Economic and Development Planning) Datu Dr Muhammad Abdullah Zaidel, Murum assemblyman Kennedy Chukpai Ugon, Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Tanjong Batu assemblyman Johnny Pang and Bintulu Resident Nyurak Keti.

Source: The Borneo Post

Abg Jo: Sarawak on schedule to produce methanol by January 2024


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The government has decided to initiate an administrative review of anti-dumping duties on trade imports of cold-rolled stainless steel (CRSS) from China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) said in a statement that the review was in line with subsection 28(6) of the Countervailing Duty and Anti-Dumping Act 1993 (Act 504) and regulation 34 of the Countervailing Duty and Anti-Dumping Regulations 1994 (Rules).

“The local producers are requesting an administrative review and based on the evidence that the termination of the anti-dumping duties is likely to cause dumping and harm will continue or recur to the local producers,” the ministry said.

Miti said the decision was taken after considering the application and information submitted by local manufacturer Bahru Stainless Sdn Bhd.

The company is seeking an administrative review of the anti-dumping duties imposed on imports of CRSS in coils, sheets or any other form with a thickness of between 0.3 millimetre and 6.5 millimetres and a width not exceeding 1,600 millimetres, excluding CRSS with a glossy gilt finish, No. 8 (mirror finish), embossed, hardened, scratched or coloured; or CRSS with a hardness value exceeding 250HV originating or exported from the countries involved.

The current anti-dumping duties imposed on imports of the subject merchandise originating in or exported from China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand, ranging from zero to 111.16 per cent will expire on Feb 7, 2023.

“In accordance with the provisions under Act 504 and regulations, the final determination for the administrative review will be made within 180 days from the initiation date,” said Miti.

The ministry will distribute questionnaires and related documents to stakeholders such as local producers, exporters/foreign producers of subject merchandise and importers and the governments of China, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.

Other interested parties who wish to participate in the administrative review should apply for questionnaires in writing to Miti no later than Feb 11, 2023, he said.

Miti said interested parties are invited to submit written views, answer questionnaires and submit supporting information no later than Feb 26.

“If the interested parties do not submit the necessary information or the information and views are not received in an adequate form within the specified time limit, the government will make a final determination based on the existing facts,” said the ministry. 

Source: Bernama

MITI to begin administrative review on CRSS import anti-dumping duties


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The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) has secured an additional RM13 billion in committed foreign direct investment (FDI) from three investors via its investment mission to Singapore.

Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the three companies — Sea Ltd, Yondr Group, and INSEACT — had collectively committed to investing RM13 billion in Malaysia.

These investments are scheduled to be operationalised within the next three years, said Tengku Zafrul, who led the mission during Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s visit to Singapore recently.

The cumulative value of RM13 billion reflects Malaysia’s attractiveness as an investment destination, Tengku Zafrul added.

“It is also a testimony to the long-standing, mutually beneficial relationship between Malaysia and Singapore in trade and investments,” he said in a statement here on Tuesday (Jan 31).

Miti intends to grow and strengthen this special relationship, particularly in building supply chain resilience for the respective industries, premised on cooperation in the digital and green economies, the minister added.

Shopee

Sea Ltd, the parent company of Shopee and the largest pan-regional e-commerce platform in Southeast Asia and Taiwan, has committed to expanding its investments in Malaysia, creating over 2,000 job opportunities. The company intends to set up cloud services, data hosting and processing, and a new e-commerce logistics warehouse in the country.

Yondr Group

Another investor is Yondr Group, a UK-headquartered global leader in the development and operation of data centres. The group, which has delivered more than 500MW globally to leading hyperscale clients, has entered the Malaysian market with the acquisition of a 75-acre (30.35-hectare) plot in Johor, and is developing a 300MW IT load hyperscale data centre campus.

Its deployment in Johor is expected to become Southeast Asia’s largest hyperscale data centre campus, and will be a major part of Malaysia’s growing digital ecosystem, said Miti.

INSEACT

The third company, INSEACT, is a Singapore-based alternative protein company specialising in insect protein for aquaculture feed. It intends to set up a production facility in Johor, its first in Southeast Asia. The company’s unique approach to alternative protein production has the potential to address Asia’s growing demand for sustainable food sources.

“We are determined to prove to investors that Malaysia is pro-trade, pro-business, and pro-investment.

“Miti and its agencies like Mida (the Malaysian Investment Development Authority) will continue to pursue high-quality, strategic and sustainable investments that will not only grow our gross domestic product and boost the development of the local digital economy, but also create new job opportunities for our people,” Tengku Zafrul continued.

The investment mission, attended by senior officials of Miti and Mida, is an important milestone towards realising Malaysia’s goal of becoming a hi-tech, global innovation hub with a resilient and sustainable investment ecosystem.

Source: Bernama

MITI bags RM13b in FDI via investment mission to Singapore


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The government has decided to initiate an anti-dumping duty investigation on imports of cold-rolled products of alloy or non-alloy steel with a width less than 1,300mm (cold reduced), not clad, not plated, or not coated (in coil, sheet, strip, hoop or any other forms), originating or exported from Japan.

The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) said the move was taken after it received a petition from a domestic producer, Mycron Steel CRC Sdn Bhd, on January 1, 2023, which alleged that imports of the subject merchandise originating or exported from Japan were sold at a price much lower than their domestic selling price in Japan (dumped price).

“The petitioner further claimed that dumped imports of the subject merchandise from Japan have increased in terms of absolute quantity and have caused material injuries to the petitioner,” it said in a statement today.

Miti said, on the investigation requested by Mycron Steel CRC, the government had evaluated and considered the information and evidence of dumping, injury, and causal link set out in the petition, and decided to initiate the anti-dumping duty investigation, pursuant to section 20 of the Countervailing and Anti-Dumping Duties Act 1993 (the Act) and regulation 2 of the Countervailing and Anti-Dumping Duties Regulations 1994.

“In accordance with the Act and the Regulations, a preliminary determination will be made within 120 days from the date of initiation.

“If the preliminary determination is affirmative, the government will impose a provisional anti-dumping duty at the rate that is necessary to prevent further injury to the domestic industry,” it said.

Miti will distribute a set of questionnaires and relevant documents to interested parties such as domestic producers, foreign exporters/producers of the subject merchandise in Japan, importers, as well as the government of Japan.

Other interested parties who wish to participate in the anti-dumping duty investigation may request for the questionnaires in writing to Miti no later than February 15, 2023.

“Interested parties may also provide their views in writing, questionnaire responses and additional supporting evidence to Miti by March 2, 2023,” it added.

Source: Bernama

MITI initiates anti-dumping duty probe on cold-rolled products of alloy from Japan


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Malaysia Steel Works (KL) Bhd (Masteel) has invested some RM60 million in various carbon reduction initiatives, earning itself the first ‘ultra-low carbon emission’ integrated steel mill in Malaysia with its inclusion in the FTSE4GOOD Bursa Malaysia Index last month.

In a statement on Tuesday (Jan 31) Masteel said it earned three out of four stars in the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Ratings among public listed companies (PLCs) in FBM EMAS, placing it within the top 26%-50% of PLCs assessed by FTSE Russell.  

The integrated steel manufacturer said it had decreased its overall greenhouse gas emissions by a significant 47% from the baseline year of 2017 to 2021, primarily attributable to the reduction in Scope 1 emissions from the steel making process due to the transition to new steel making technologies starting in 2018.     

The new facilities also reduce energy inputs required from natural gas and oxygen.

Masteel had completed the construction of a curtain wall of its reheating furnace which resulted in further decrease in usage of natural gas.  

“This has already yielded positive results, with estimated reduction in natural gas usage of more than 9 Sm3/mt and a reduction of oxygen of more than 7 Nm3/mt2. These improvements also serve to reduce mill downtime,” it added.

Masteel managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Tai Hean Leng said the group aims to reduce emissions by a further 10% by 2026, and 15% by 2031.  

“At the same time, we will also expand our emissions monitoring systems from Scopes 1 and 2 currently to include Scope 3, to implement incremental step ups in a systematic and sustainable manner.

“We have invested approximately RM60.66 million across various carbon-reduction initiatives in our operations towards our goal of reducing total CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions by approximately 7,300 tonnes.”

Source: The Edge Markets

Masteel invests some RM60m in capex to become first ultra-low carbon emission integrated mill


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Samalaju Industrial Port will be transformed into a digital, intelligent and sustainable port, said Bintulu Port Holdings Berhad chairman Dato Abdul Mutalib Alias.

He said that is one of the key plans in the pipeline that will subsequently contribute towards realising the state’s vision of building a digital economy and powerhouse for renewable energy.

He added Samalaju Industrial Port Sdn Bhd (SIPSB) is currently serving seven customers, with the designed berth capacity of 18 million tonnes per annum.

“Out of 356 hectares of land, we have utilised 44 per cent of our land, while still having vast land banks for future port expansion and development.

“Together with the aspiration of the state government to achieve its high-income economy status by 2030, we are committed to play our role in supporting this aspiration to become a reality.

“We strongly believe that the port will continue to grow in future, as we embark on bigger developments to provide better capacities and services to our current and potential customers,” said Abdul Mutalib.

He said this during SIPSB’s 10th anniversary celebration dinner at Parkcity Everly Hotel yesterday. The auspicious event was graced by Sarawak Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg.

From the first maiden voyage in April 2014, he said SIPSB has since handled various types of dry bulk and break bulk cargoes.

He added the port has served almost 7 million tonnes of cargo throughput and more than 300 vessels in 2022, signifying a remarkable 26 per cent of growth compared to year 2021.

Abdul Mutalib pointed out that the commendable growth was attributed by the economic recovery of the global trade fueled by the ramping up of production by the customers.

In December 2021, he said another important milestone was achieved where the port commenced its first container operations to support the industries within the park and its hinterland thereby connecting the port directly to the intra-Asia container shipping routes.

“We acknowledged the challenges that we are facing, especially when it comes to continuously increasing the port’s efficiency and meeting our customers’ expectations.

“It was only through sheer perseverance and close co-operation among stakeholders, that all adversities were overcome and have succeeded in making a decade of this journey,” he said.

During the event, Abang Johari also witnessed the exchange of memorandum of understanding, between SIPSB and Sarawak Digital Economy Corporation Berhad (SDEC), OCIKumho Sdn Bhd and Bintulu Development Authority.

“We would also be working together with the state government in achieving its goal towards a high-income economy by 2030 and ensuring that all development is done responsibly and sustainably.

“We look forward to future collaboration on enhancing our renewable energy capacities, as well as proactively participating in the State’s Post Covid-19 Development Strategies to accelerate the State’s economy in particular, and Malaysia as a whole,” he said.

Among those present at the dinner were Abang Johari’s wife Puan Sri Datuk Amar Juma’ani Tun Tuanku Bujang, Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas, Sarawak State Legislative Assembly speaker Tan Sri Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nasar, Minister of Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom, Minister of Utility and Telecommunication Datuk Julaihi Narawi, Minister in the Premier’s Department Datuk John Sikie Tayai, Sarawak state secretary Datuk Amar Mohamad Abu Bakar Marzuki, Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Port Development Dato Majang Renggi, and Bintulu Port Holdings Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Mohammad Medan Abdullah.

Source: The Borneo Post

Samalaju Industrial Port seeks intelligent digital transformation, sustainability


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Malaysia and Singapore have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate in personal data protection, cybersecurity and the digital economy.

The MOU was signed by Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil and his Singapore counterpart Josephine Teo, and witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong in Singapore.

The Communications and Digital Ministry said this was following the agreement by both countries in October 2018 to explore cooperation in all three fields.

It said personal data protection cooperation includes the exchange of knowledge and expertise on best practices relating to policies and regulations, education and capacity building, and enforcement efforts, as well as mechanisms to promote cross-border data flows, reported Bernama.

The cooperation on cybersecurity includes the exchange of knowledge and expertise on best practices, coordination and organisation of capacity-building activities and exchange in information on analyses, experiences and guidance regarding cyberattacks and cybersecurity incidents, concerns or threats.

“It also includes designation of an authorised national cybersecurity lead agency by each participant for the purpose of establishing an annual Malaysia-Singapore Cybersecurity Roundtable.”

On the digital economy, the ministry said the agreement involves the exchange of information on best practices, policies and regulations, including on digitalisation, interoperable standards and new emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and blockchain.

On another matter, Anwar – who was in Singapore on a one-day official visit – said he sees food security as one area of cooperation that can be explored with Singapore for the benefit of both countries.

“This area (food security) that I think we would solicit support for Singapore to use Malaysia as the heartland to produce for the benefit of both countries,” he said in his toast speech at an official lunch hosted by Lee yesterday.

“My position in this administration is very new, but I think our position and my Cabinet team is very clear … not only do we want to continue the relations, but we want both Singaporeans and Malaysians to understand we are two great countries and two great neighbours,” he said.

Lee, in his speech, said he and Anwar had a fruitful discussion, including on how both countries could make progress on outstanding bilateral issues.

“As close friends and neighbours, the destinies of Singapore and Malaysia are intertwined. When we work constructively together, we produce win-win outcomes with tangible benefits for our peoples and businesses,” he said.

Earlier, Anwar held a meeting with Lee before calling on President Halimah Yacob.

Source: The Star

Malaysia and Singapore to cooperate on three fronts


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The Malaysia-Singapore Framework on Cooperation in Digital Economy can be a role model for other Asean countries in preparing their talent, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups for the digital decade.

“Through this collaboration, Malaysia hopes to learn and share best practices that will facilitate talent-building, infrastructure upgrading, and others, whether in the public or private sector,” International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said today.

As for the framework on cooperation in the green economy, he said Malaysia welcomes the collaboration with Singapore on the technical know-how for the regulatory requirements for electric vehicles (EVs), autonomous vehicles and green economy initiatives such as carbon credit, quantifying well-to-wheels and others.

“These would include standardisation or industry guidelines, technical requirements, a code of conduct, laws and regulations, as well as capacity-building programmes,” he told the media in Singapore after the signing ceremony of the Malaysia and Singapore Framework on Cooperation in the Digital Economy and Green Economy.

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

“This cooperation framework is a joint initiative between the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore to increase bilateral cooperation in the field of the digital economy and green economy.

“God willing, this bilateral cooperation in the digital economy and green economy has the potential to drive industrial development in both countries and create more job and business opportunities for Malaysia and Singapore.

“I agree with many of the principles mentioned by Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in terms of meaningful economic growth. In fact, from the past, I have always shared with the media that economic growth needs to benefit the people as well, in terms of job opportunities and empowering the people to build a good life, not benefiting big companies only,” he said.

This principle also needs to be applied in any bilateral or multilateral agreement, including in terms of the Framework on Cooperation with Singapore in the Green Economy and also the Digital Economy, he added.

“Asean needs strong leadership for the future sustainability of its people. In my opinion, joint cooperation with Singapore in the digital economy and green economy is able to provide such leadership to contribute to the prosperity of Asean in the future,” noted Tengku Zafrul.

Asked about the investment outlook for Malaysia, Tengku Zafrul acknowledged that there was strong competition and there were areas for improvement, especially in industries it wants to focus on.

According to Miti data released recently, Singapore accounted for the largest value of exports among Asean nations at RM232.57 billion in 2022, followed by Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia were the top three export destinations in 2022, accounting for 78.3 per cent of Malaysia’s total exports to Asean.

Exports to almost all Asean countries registered a new record high.

Source: Bernama

Malaysia, Singapore Framework on Cooperation in Digital Economy can be role model for Asean countries: Tengku Zafrul


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Strengthening the connectivity between the European Union (EU) and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) and deepening the bilateral economic ties will be one of the priorities of the 27-member union this year, according to EU Ambassador to Asean Igor Driesmans.

The diplomat said that the signing of the EU-Asean comprehensive air transport agreement, the first ever region-to-region aviation agreement in 2022, will boost to air connectivity between the 37 countries involved.

The EU wants to invest more in the region, Vietnam news agency (VNA) reported him said, adding that leaders of the union have announced 10 billion EUR (US$10.88 billion) in investment in Southeast Asia in the next couple of years through the “Global Gateway” sustainable investments in the region that aimed to address some of Asean’s big connectivity needs and build on some of the successes in that respect of our previous cooperation.

He noted that the EU has already signed free trade agreements (FTA) with Singapore and Vietnam. The union will open negotiations for FTAs with other Asean countries, while resuming FTA negotiations with Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Thailand.

Driesmans said that the EU’s second priority is to develop a joint green and sustainable agenda with the region, which is a top priority for the EU and for its partnership with Asean.

He said that the union is rolling out the EU Green Deal to make the EU circular, carbon neutral economy by 2050. Therefore, it need to partner with Asean to make that a reality because due to rapid growth, Asean as the entire region is increasingly a CO2 emitter.

“The EU has been developing quite a few cooperation projects and programmes with Asean, for example, to support Smart Green cities to improve biodiversity to manage peatlands more sustainably.

“So we will want to scale up that ambition, do much more in terms of cooperation, and add a political dimension to our work. And we look forward to work with Indonesia to hold the first ever EU-ASEAN environmental ministerial meeting,” he noted.

He said a EU-Asean dialogue on energy will also be held this year.

The diplomat said that the third priority is security partnership as there’s a number of security issues in both of our regions, especially Myanmar in Southeast Asia, and Ukraine in Europe.

VNA reported that the EU also hopes to work with Asean to ensure free and open maritime supply routes in the East Sea in full compliance with international law, in particular the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), he said, pledging that the union will also support the negotiations for a Code of Conduct on the East Sea (COC).

The ambassador also underlined other priorities of the EU in promoting Indo-Pacific partnership, and ensuring a safe, prosperous Asean.

“The EU hopes for stronger and even stronger partnership building on the momentum of the EU-Asean Summit in Dec,” he added.

Source: Bernama

EU to focus on deepening economic ties with Asean, says its ambassador in Hanoi


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In conjunction with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s official visit to Singapore today, three agreements were signed between Putrajaya and Singapore covering aspects of cyber security, digital and green economy.

The Prime Minister led the Malaysian delegation to Singapore in a meeting with his counterpart Lee Hsien Loong at The Istana.

Anwar said the two frameworks involving cooperation in the digital economy and the green economy were signed by International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz and his counterpart Gan Kim Yong on behalf of Singapore.

“Meanwhile, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil represented Malaysia to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to promote cooperation from the aspects of data, cyber security and the digital economy,” Anwar said through a post on the official Twitter page today.

He said through this meeting, Anwar and Lee as close friends and neighbours were able to work together constructively and produce a win-win situation with significant benefits for the people and business fields of both countries.

This is Anwar’s first official visit to Singapore after assuming the office of Prime Minister.

“I was also honoured by PM Lee who named a hybrid orchid species ‘Dendrobium Anwar Azizah’ in conjunction with my official visit to Singapore,” he said.

He added that this meeting provided an opportunity to explore forms of cooperation to further improve Malaysia-Singapore bilateral relations.

“We also had the opportunity to discuss various regional and international issues of mutual interest,” he said.

Previously, Tengku Zafrul said discussions with Singapore on a memorandum of cooperation (MOC) in digital trade and green economy had started last year and had been presented to the Cabinet, which had given its approval for it to be finalised soon.

The two countries signed an MOC in the digital and green economy, a first for Putrajaya due to the growth potential in both sectors. The MOC is a follow up to the cooperation framework finalised by both countries in August 2022.

A framework for cooperation in the digital economy will facilitate enhanced cooperation in areas such as trade facilitation, digital identity, standards, investment promotion, facilitation of digitisation as well as digitisation of micro, small and medium enterprises.

This will open up wider opportunities, benefitting businesses, workers and people in both countries.

From the aspect of the green economy, the two countries will strengthen cooperation to decarbonise industries in addition to allowing businesses and workers to seize existing opportunities.

Source: Bernama

PM Anwar: Three agreements involving cyber security, digital, green economy signed in Singapore


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Only 15km away from Bandar Malaysia, the 686-acre MRANTI Park has no lack of suitors keen on setting up their business at Malaysia’s premier technology park.

However, the Malaysian Research Accelerator for Technology and Innovation (MRANTI) is curating its tenant profile, ensuring that the community it builds will benefit from another to accelerate the commercialisation of technology and innovation.

MRANTI CEO Dzuleira Abu Bakar said the Park will be the centre of activity for collaboration, serving as a springboard for new ideas and creative solutions that can be accelerated for commercialisation.

“It is where researchers, creators and innovators are brought together to nurture ideas into industry-changing products and services. We are not just the landlord of a very prime piece of land. We want to streamline the right tenants to bring to life the concept of co-location”.

“It is important to provide an innovation-centric location with a strong infrastructure through an integrated co-location concept. MRANTI Park will be a meeting point for innovators, researchers and investors. Thus, it can bring together key stakeholders and strengthen the Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) ecosystem. The combination of these factors can attract foreign and domestic direct investment that is needed to improve the STI ecosystem and at the same time develop the national economy,” Dzuleira said.

Optimising Return on Ideas

MRANTI, a technology commercialisation accelerator borne from the strategic convergence of Technology Park Malaysia and Malaysian Global Innovation and Creativity Centre (MaGIC), is intended to catapult Malaysia towards becoming a high-tech nation and an innovation-driven economy.

“Our focus now is to build a complete innovation ecosystem, to overcome the issue of low commercialisation rate, strengthening core technologies and development of local talents,” said Dzuleira.

In short, she said MRANTI aims to fast-track innovators and optimise Malaysia’s return on ideas.

“This means we need to accelerate the creation, development, and commercialization of technology and innovation to ramp up our innovation output. Our goal is to put Malaysia on the top 20 list of the most innovative countries in the world by 2030. This will create more jobs for Malaysians and bring about higher incomes and better livelihoods for them,” she said.

Dzuleira added that by building a pipeline encompassing the entire value chain, from start-ups in incubation to high-growth technology companies, Malaysia can strengthen and unlock greater value in its technology and innovation ecosystem, and increase income generation, job creation, and export earnings while putting our economy on the path of recovery.

MRANTI Park Masterplan

To achieve this, MRANTI has launched the MRANTI Park Masterplan in October 2022 to nurture Malaysia’s capabilities in 4IR (The Fourth Industrial Revolution) and rapidly developing technologies from IoT (Internet of Things) systems, end-to-end intellectual property (IP) services and laboratories to contract manufacturing facilities with advanced technology.

Under this masterplan, MRANTI is targeting a Gross Development Value (GDV) of RM 20 billion, with returns from land leases valued at RM 2.8 billion. It is also expected to create 8,000 job opportunities from various technology clusters within the Park itself.

The rejuvenated technology park, powered by ‘impact technology’ is positioned to attract young professionals, as well as create a stable funnel for highly skilled talent. Modem infrastructure, including high-speed broadband and 5G technology; universities or research-intensive institutions; as well as incentives and funding opportunities are some of its salient features.

With a development area 10 times bigger than Kuala Lumpur Sentral, MRANTI Park is the first and currently only 5G infrastructure enabled innovation park in Malaysia to support AI related activities and development. Its secure and confined environment is purpose designed for sandbox environments and live testing of UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).

The Park offers facilities which enable everything from ideation to prototype to commercialised product. In terms of 5G connectivity, the Park has inked MoUs with Huawei, Digital Nasional Berhad, Ericsson, Telekom Malaysia and Tenaga Nasional Berhad. The community includes Novozymes Malaysia, Securemetric Technology, Plus Xnergy Services, Sartorius Stedim Malaysia, Terra Drone Malaysia, MIT Innovation and ACGT. The Park also houses the Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation. David Hagerbro, Head of Ericsson Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, said MRANTI provides an environment with access to world-class integrated infrastructure, programmes, services, facilities and a suite of resources that can nurture the 5G ecosystem.

“Our initiatives with MRANTI are exciting because they will contribute to developing the 5G ecosystem in Malaysia. Together with MRANTI, Ericsson is leveraging its experience and technology leadership to accelerate the development of use cases to increase the uptake of 5G, as well as to support local start-ups and technopreneurs on 5G development and readiness. Ericsson will also be participating in a 5G knowledge building program through activities such as presentations and seminars,” he said.

To date, MRANTI Park has attracted the interest of many technology companies, including Intervenn Biosciences, Dedikasi Aba Biosciences, BoomGrow, Spygene Laboratories, Vivantis Technologies and Reszon Diagnostics. Several international technology companies have started serious discussions with MRANTI to establish a foothold at the Park.

While MRANTI Park is in a prime location coveted by many, Dzuleira reiterated that it is not real estate play.

“We are not any ordinary landlord. We want to develop a human-centric tech ecosystem which is designed beyond the ordinary. We aspire to nurture a fun, safe and well-connected community within the Park,” she said.

Proponents of ESG

It is common to associate modernity with a concrete jungle and shiny metallic machines, and that is the perception most people have of a technology park and advanced innovations.

MRANTI Park seeks to dispel this myth, as it is committed to be developed in accordance with the principles laid out by the United Nations for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) framework.

The park intends to serve as a viable innovation centre and technology hub based on sustainable and clean concepts and act as an inspiration and a catalyst for market-driven innovation through smart partnerships and ecosystems.

This integrated park and its open space will harmonize biodiversity between human activities and the existing unique species such as smooth-coated otters, wild boars and migratory birds. Overall, it will be a new lifestyle design for a sustainable, vibrant and inclusive working environment.

“The new provision of infrastructure and utilities with an estimated construction cost of RM500 million will oversee development based on SDG/ESG pillars and reflect global sustainable development principles. The plan will facilitate application of the cluster approach to synergise the multi-segment of tech & innovation.”

“This is in line with our country’s aspiration to become a carbon-neutral and zero Greenhouse Gas emission country by 2050, preserve natural forests and implement nature-based solutions to reduce the long-term impact on the environment including planting 100 million trees by 2025,” said Dzuleira.

Progressive Culture

She is also a strong proponent of equal gender opportunities in the workplace, and calls for more women to get involved in the male-dominated tech industry.

“At MRANTI, we have equally nurtured a growing number of female-led start-ups such as BoomGrow, Data 8, Rich Trees Consultancy, HTM Hengtech, Arteca, Three Little Ahmads, EZplast Solution, Medieva, Gula Cakery, Optimist Technology, Zelikha Holdings, Read Genius, Dunita International, infinitech Solution, Pelangi Network and Cordoba Leadership Centre,” she said.

She cited a survey by TrustRadius, where women are outnumbered three to one in tech; around one in four leadership roles at large tech companies are held by women; women in tech earn 94.6 cents for every dollar earned by a man with the same role or experience; and women tend to work in lower-level, lower-paid positions and progress in their careers less quickly than men.

“The need for more women in STI goes beyond issues of fairness and ethics. The United Nations (UN) acknowledges that equal access to and participation in STI for women is imperative for the achievement of development goals,” she said.

BoomGrow CEO Dr Jay Desan said MRANTI Park will always be the organisation’s “ground zero for innovation and creativity”.

“Being in MRANTI Park has allowed us to build many connections within the industry. What’s exciting for us next is introducing a more robust R&D facility, new farms and also several new products to the market. Beyond this, the events and seminars hosted by the MRANTI team have enabled us to reach a wider audience and translated into brand awareness,” she said.

“We can’t wait to see more neighbours joining us and creating a community of innovators that lift each other up!” she added.

Source: The Edge Markets

MRANTI Park Invites Investors and Innovators


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