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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 18: The success of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is crucial for ASEAN to be truly integrated, says Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Lee Chee Leong.

Lee said resilient SMEs should start to have a global mind-set.

“They should explore opportunities from liberalisation under the ASEAN Economic Community and expand their trade and investments,” he said at the launch of I-Score credit risk management tool.

The I-Score is co-developed by Rating Agency Malaysia Credit Info Sdn Bhd (RAMCI) with global information services company, Experian plc.

The tool, designed for financial institutions, business corporations and consumers, provides a comprehensive credit report ranking consumers, business partners and potential investors for credit risk.

Lee said SMEs could now use the tool to assess the strategies for their businesses if they intended to expand them.

“This will help address the challenges faced by SMEs to obtain credit,” he said.

Meanwhile, RAMCI Director, Chen Yew Nah, said eventhough the country was currently facing economic challenges due to the external developments, companies should look at the situation as opportunities to plan forward for the better time.

“What we are going through today is part and parcel of a growing country but the good times will come.

“Businesses should stay alert and constantly understand more of the market while at the same time go forward to see what else they should do,” she said.

— Bernama

Executive Director Roy Michael said that with over 600 million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.4 trillion ringgit ($600 billion) in 2013, ASEAN is the seventh largest market.

“Should the trend continues, it has the potential to become the fourth largest market globally by 2050,” he added.

He told Bernama ASEAN recorded over $1.2 trillion in total merchandise exports, making it one of the most open economic regions in the world.

“Significant progress had been made in integrating the economies of the 10-member states under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) blueprint which is expected to be a reality by year-end,” he said.

Michael was speaking after hosting the ASEAN-US Trade Winds Forum at the Malaysian embassy here on Wednesday. It was attended by American policy and industry leaders.

The half-day forum is a quarterly event hosted on rotation among ASEAN embassies here to increase understanding between American and ASEAN small and medium enterprises.

Panel discussions included updates on the progress of the AEC, challenges in achieving ASEAN economic integration, and the South China Sea dispute.

Among the guest speakers were Malaysia’s ambassador to the United States, Datuk Dr Awang Adek Husin, representatives of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation.

Also participating were the embassies of Myanmar and the Philippines, the US Department of Commerce, the US Agency for International Development, the Center of Naval Analysis, and the US-ASEAN Business Council.

Meanwhile, MYUSCHAM is hosting an Islamic Finance Conference on October 22, themed, “Islamic Capital Market: Inroads into the US,” with the tagline, “An Alternative Engine for Growth” in Washington DC.

The conference will be helmed by Malaysian and American Islamic capital market players and is spearheaded by Datuk Noripah Kamso, chairman of the MYUSCHAM Islamic Finance Industry Council.

Michael said the conference will be a perfect meeting place for Malaysians and Americans to leverage on opportunities in attracting greater collaboration and cooperation among capital market players.

AEM ke-47 tumpu AEC

MENTERI Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri (Miti), Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, akan mempengerusikan Mesyuarat Menteri-Menteri Ekonomi Asean (AEM) ke-47 bermula 22 hingga 25 Ogos ini di Kuala Lumpur.

Menurut kenyataan media, mesyuarat tersebut adalah bagi memuktamadkan penubuhan komuniti ekonomi Asean (AEC) menjelang akhir 2015.

“Antara perkara yang akan dibincangkan adalah pelaksanaan langkah-langkah AEC selari dengan yang ditetapkan dalam Pelan Komuniti Ekonomi Asean 2015.

“Turut dibincangkan kerja-kerja merangka visi ekonomi 2015, Pelan Ekonomi Pasca 2015 Asean, pelan tindakan strategik bagi 10 tahun akan datang dan merangka pelan strategik bagi pembangunan perusahaan kecil dan sederhana (PKS) 2016-2025,” katanya.

Menurut Mustapa AEC menyasarkan pembentukan sebuah pasaran tunggal dan pusat pengeluaran antara 10 anggota negara Asean.

“Integrasi ekonomi nasional ke arah pembentukan blok ekonomi serantau tunggal dijangka akan dapat membantu melicinkan aliran perdagangan dan pelaburan di rantau ini.

“AEC juga akan membantu menjana pertumbuhan ekonomi Asean yang dijangka akan meningkatkan Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK) kepada RM18.5 trilion menjelang 2020 berbanding RM10.6 trilion masa ini,” katanya.

Mustapa juga akan mempengerusikan Konsultasi Menteri-Menteri Ekonomi Asean dengan Rakan-Rakan Dialog Asean melibatkan menteri-menteri ekonomi dari Republik Rakyat China, Jepun, Republik Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India, Kanada, Rusia dan Amerika Syarikat

Selain itu, Menteri-Menteri Ekonomi Asean juga akan bermesyuarat bersama wakil-wakil Majlis Penasihat Perniagaan Asean (Asean BAC), Majlis Perniagaan Asia Timur (EABC), the Federation of Japanese Chambers of Commerce and Industry in Asean (FJCCIA), Majlis Perniagaan AS-Asean (USABC), Majlis Perniagaan Kanada-Asean (CABC) dan Majlis Perniagaan Asean-India (AIBC).

Pada masa yang sama, Persidangan Perniagaan EU-Asean dan Forum Pelaburan Asia Timur juga akan diadakan masing-masing pada 23 dan 24 Ogos 2015.

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 11 (Bernama) — Enhancement of management skills, niche technology and effective organisation, are the strategic tools identified to improve labour productivity, said Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah.

He said as labour productivity is expected to grow 3.7 per cent annually to RM92,300 by 2020, Malaysia also needs to improve and increase workers’ skills.

“The required advanced skills and technology is the best competitive edge for economies to move up the value chain and beyond the simple production processes and products,” he added.

Ahmad Husni told the media this after chairing the 2016 Budget Focus Group on “Improving Labour Productivity: Public and Private”, here today.

“Looking back at last year’s performance, national labour productivity growth, covering both the public and private sectors, was at 3.5 per cent to RM61,708 per employee from RM60,437 in 2013,” he said.

He said by sector, construction registered the strongest productivity performance with growth of 13.2 per cent, followed by mining (6.5 per cent), agriculture (3.9 per cent), manufacturing (3.8 per cent) and services (2.2 per cent).

“Productivity remains at the top of Malaysia’s economic agenda.

“Efforts towards unlocking its potential as a game changer in the 11th Malaysia Plan, such as an increase in productivity, will lead to benefits in terms of a higher standard of living and enhanced competitiveness,” Ahmad Husni said.

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 10 (Bernama) — Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) in Malaysia from its ASEAN peers is expected to gain momentum with the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) becoming a reality from Dec 31 this year.

Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the sustained removal of barriers among the 10-member grouping, had led to an expansion in intra-ASEAN trade and investments, from US$1.22 billion in 2000 to US$24.4 billion in 2014.

“This accounts for 17.9 per cent of the total US$136.2 billion FDI inflows into the region last year,” he told reporters at the AEC Open Day here Monday.

Mustapa said similarly, intra-ASEAN trade accounted for 24 per cent of the total ASEAN trade or US$608 billion.

Meanwhile, ASEAN’s per capita income now stands at US$4,130 with intra-ASEAN trade expected to grow to 30 per cent by 2020.

He also said being the ASEAN Chairman this year, Malaysia wants to prepare local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as they are the backbone of the national economy.

“The government will continue to provide financial support to SMEs. We have also identified the transportation and finance sectors as needing extra focus and will be working on it,” he added.

He said the AEC blueprint had now achieved 91 per cent of the stipulated target and aims to hit 95 per cent by this November.

“We are working very hard. We have 506 measures altogether, which are being monitored closely. Of course, our objectives are very modest, as we operate by consensus and do not have supra authority.

“I will be chairing the upcoming ASEAN Economic Meeting on Aug 21 and we will review and talk to each other on what can be done between now and November to push the success rate of 95 per cent,” he added.

According to MITI’s senior director for the AEC division P. Ravindran, at 95 per cent, the integration measures mark a notable achievement, as nowhere in the world is there 100 per cent economic integration.

The AEC Open Day is aimed at creating greater awareness and highlight to SMEs, the opportunities available to them under the AEC.

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