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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 (Bernama) — Malaysia will finalise the remaining 28 new sub-sectors in the liberalisation of services sector by next year, for inclusion in the 10th Asean Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) package.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia had cumulatively covered 100 services sub-sectors in the Ninth Package, among them, healthcare, tourism and telecommunications.

He said Malaysia is currently gathering suggestions and feedback from other Asean countries which would be discussed at the end of February or early March 2015.

“We are also preparing to take over the chairmanship of Asean next year, and we hope the 10th Package would be finalised by October ahead of the targeted launch date of the Asean Economic Community by end-2015,” he told the media after the National Seminar and Workshop on Trade in Services here, today.

He said the 28 sub-sectors might not be necessarily new, with enhancements to be made on existing sub-sectors made under the Ninth Package, on matters such as freer trade in the services sector.

On domestic services sector growth, Mustapa is optimistic the sector could achieve 60 per cent contribution to the gross domestic product by 2020, from the current 54.9 per cent, with the implementation of the Services Sector Blueprint 2014 that aims to strengthen competitiveness.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 (Bernama) — The ministries of International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) and Human Resource will look into the allegations on forced labour the electrical and electronics (E&E) sector in Malaysia.

According to news report, the US Labour Department would put Malaysian on the “International Ranking on Forced Labour” watch list in December on findings from a global non-governmental organisation, Verite, on labour issues in the sector.

The US Labour Department-funded Verite highlighted several issues regarding employment in the country’s E&E sector including deceptive recruitment, poor living conditions and passport retention.

“This could be on misinformation. We will have constant engagements with the relevant authorities regarding the issues.

“It is important to have correct information and that should be corrected accordingly,” International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed told Bernama Tuesday.

“Sometimes, there are misunderstandings. So we need to hold more meetings and they have been undertaken with the affected parties. Sometimes, it could be wrong information and misunderstanding. What’s more important we must correct the misinformation,” he said.

In the first seven months of this year, approved investments in the E&E sector reached RM8.4 billion with 57 approved projects.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 ( Bernama) — Malaysia’s economic scorecard under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint is currently at 83.9 per cent with 70 out of 436 variable measures still not being implemented, says Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI), Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad.

The minister said Malaysia was now ranked sixth among the ten ASEAN countries in AEC’s economic scorecard.

He said he was confident to be able to implement at least half of the 70 unimplemented variables in six months’ time or middle of next year to improve the country’s ranking.

“The variables, among others, fall under different category measures like trade in goods, elimination of non-tariff barriers, service liberalisation and non ratification of agreements and involving many sectors,” he said.

Mustapa said this at a media briefing after chairing an inter-agency meetings on AEC with ministers in the capital, Monday.

“Overall, ASEAN has implemented 82.1 per cent of the prioritised AEC measures identified in 2013 and an additional 53 key deliverables for 2014 to 2015 had also been implemented as at middle August this year.

“Malaysia’s implementation rate is well within other member states’, ranging from 81 per cent to 86 per cent,” he said.

Mustapa said another issue being discussed at the meeting was the outreach programmes to elevate the level of awareness among the people on AEC’s opportunities and to listen to concerns among the people on the perceived threat the AEC might post.

He said it was important for the ministries and agencies to undertake a coordinated effort towards creating greater awareness of the various initiatives among stakeholder under their responsibilities.

“The Ministry of International Trade and Industry has organised over hundred outreach programmes covering trade and industry associations, small and medium enterprises, school and university students, non-governmental organisations, civil societies, media and grassroots levels,” he said.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 (Bernama) — The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has targeted to increase the small and medium enterprise (SME) market growth from 6.3 to 9.3 per cent under the SME Master Plan 2012-2020.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the SME Master Plan 2012-2020 was aimed at contributing at least 41 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2020 from 33 per cent at present.

He said the government would continue to expand financing options for SMEs by providing special funds and schemes either directly or through Bank Negara Malaysia.

“I must stress that SMEs should strengthen their management skills, financial and learning capacities, and fully utilise the support given by the government,” he said at the launch of 27th Asian Credit Supplementation Institution Confederation (ACSIC) Conference 2014 from Nov 16 to 21 here Monday.

His speech was read by MITI secretary-general Datuk Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria.

Mustapa said under the 2015 Budget, 18 programmes with a financial allocation of RM14.3 billion had been proposed for SME development, encompassing the services sector, Bumiputera entrepreneurs, youths, graduates, micro-enterprises, petty traders, women, smallholders, cooperatives, and trade associations.

Credit Guarantee Corporation Malaysia Bhd (CGC) president and chief executive officer Datuk Wan Azhar said CGC had so far this year provided warranty loans amounting to RM2.8 billion to 5,300 SMEs and targeted to disburse out loans to at least 300 more SMEs by year-end.

“Our target for 2015 is to focus on improving SME credibility by improving their credit standing,” he said.

The four-day conference themed ‘Credit Guarantee System: Fostering a Culture of Innovation to Enhance Sustainable Development’ is held from Sunday.

It is attended by 140 delegates from 19 credit guarantee institutions from 12 Asians countries, namely Indonesia, India, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, Nepal, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, and host Malaysia.

CGC chairman Datuk Agil Natt was present.

KOTA BAHARU, Nov 16 (Bernama) — Malaysia’s 643,000 small medium enterprise (SME) entrepreneurs have been urged to work towards penetrating the Asean market next year.

Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad in making this call said they should take full advantage of Malaysia assuming the chairmanship of Asean in 2015 to more actively market their products in the region.

He also cautioned that if they failed to do so, they would lose out on an excellent opportunity to enhance their business and quality of life.

“SME entrepreneurs must break into the Asean market as the domestic scenario is too small with just 30 million people. But Asean has a 620 million population and imagine if, we can just sell soya or chilli sauce or fish crackers (keropok).

“By breaking into foreign markets, their business will surely grow,” he added.

Mustapa told reporters this after officiating the Kelantan Halal Products Transformation Programme 2015 here today.

He said Miti had drawn up a masterplan from 2012 to 2020 to help propel the SME industry and in this regard, there would be an exhibition and seminar involving SMEs from Asean in 2015.

“Next year, the Asean Economic Community will be declared, and the region will be more open in respect of trade barriers and no tariffs for the purchase of goods from overseas,” he added.

Mustapa said only about 10,000 SME entrepreneurs had at present utilised the opportunity to penetrate the Asean market and this number was deemed too small.

He also said that next year, his ministry would gather SME entrepreneurs from throughout Kelantan to assist them in promoting their products, not just in the domestic market, but also overseas.

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