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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25 (Bernama) — The national automobile industry needs to step up its competitiveness, particularly in the export market, given the rising intense competition from global players, says International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

He said the ministry was not happy with the current export performance of the industry unlike the offtake of auto-components which was performing well.

Mustafa said the local industry would have to be mindful of the fact that in the next few years China would slowly, but surely, emerge as an important exporter.

“Exports is one indicator of how competitive we are because we are competing against big giants from Japan, Korea and the United States.

“Increasingly, perhaps in the future, we should be aware that the Chinese are building capabilities in the automobile sector,” he told a press conference after witnessing the signing of a vendor development programme by five companies here Tuesday.

The companies which signed the vendor development programme agreement were Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd, CIMB Group Holdings Bhd, UMW Corporation and Pharmaniaga Bhd.

Mustapa said the government would review the progress of National Automotive Policy (NAP), which has been in existence for a year now, and details would be announced by mid-January.

He said the NAP has showed that some companies have made progress and were competitive in the market while some were not.

Meanwhile, commenting on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd’s investment in Cayman Islands, Mustapa said “it’s not an unusual practice” as some banks and sovereign funds have been doing this.

“Investing in financial centres like this is a normal course that some companies take because of tax savings, business facilitation, privacy and protection of assets.

“Those are considerations that motivate some companies to manage their funds out of offshore centres,” he added.

TANGKAK, Nov 23 (Bernama) — Malaysia is expected to attract at least RM200 billion or 10 per cent of the total investment in Asean countries with the implementation of the Asean Economic Community blueprint next year, says International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Datuk Hamim Samuri.

“With the implementation of the AEC, agreed to in 2007, Malaysia will also benefit from a market of 620 million people in the Asean countries,” he told reporters after the presentation of Quality Environment Practices (QE/5S) certification by the Malaysian Productivity Corporation here today.

Hamim said with the AEC harmonising and standardising intra-reginal import and export procedures, government agencies and the private sector need to improve their competitiveness in order to attract investors through QE/5S practices.

Twelve organisations took part in a QE/5S training programme from April to October aimed at reducing wastage.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 (Bernama) — The Belgian Economic Mission to Malaysia has received encouraging response to its sectoral seminars held, Monday to introduce the country’s advancement and availability of technologies.

Belgium Ambassador to Malaysia, Daniel Dargent said the seminars included on clean technology, agro-food and healthcare sectors.

“At the same time, official meetings with Malaysian ministers were also held in the presence of Princess Astrid to enhance bilateral relationship, particularly in economic and commercial sectors,” Dargent told BERNAMA during the Belgium Economic Mission to Malaysia seminar in Kuala Lumpur.

Ministers who attended the meeting were International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed; Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan; and Deputy Minister of Health Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.

Commenting on the halal cooperation and partnership, Dargent said apart from venturing into the halal food industry, the mission will hold a seminar on the scope and opportunities in Shariah-compliant investments, Tuesday.

“We would like to learn from Malaysia on how to develop the business and the procedures that are needed to be followed in order to be halal compliant,” he said.

By the end of the three-day mission ending Tuesday, Dargent hoped that more than 10 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) between Belgian and Malaysian companies would be signed.

“The MoUs will signify the concrete achievements of this mission and this would be the first step for companies from both countries to progress to the next step in the months to come,” said Dargent.

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.

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