• PM wants SMEs to increase their contribution to GDP to 8 per cent
  • Use Malaysia as Gateway to Asia, 4-member Pacific Alliance Urged
  • Machinery and Equipment Sector investments in H1 2017 rises to RM709 million
  • 87% of Education Leaders believe they need to be a Digital Institution to succeed
  • Singapore suspends trade relations with North Korea
  • China sweeps top 3 spots in The Fintech100; Singapore in top 50

SMEs Need to Increase Contribution to GDP by 8 per cent
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said small and medium enterprises (SMEs) need to increase their productivity and share to the economy by at least eight per cent in order to achieve the target of 41 per cent contribution to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) by 2020. He said the government aimed to transform the SME sector into the driving force of the economy in terms of wealth creation and employment generation. To date, the SME sector contribution to the economy stood at 36.9 per cent. “I don’t want the SMEs to be caught in the old trap. We want the SMEs to be transformed and that is why we’ve set aside the largest ever allocation of RM22.2 billion (in Budget 2018).” “I want the SMEs to use it for expansion, start-ups, exports and automation for industrial 4.0 revolution,” he said. (Bernama)

Use Malaysia As Gateway to Asia, Pacific Alliance Urged
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has invited the Pacific Alliance to use Malaysia as the gateway to the ASEAN and Asian markets, leveraging the country’s free-trade agreements (FTAs) within the region and beyond. MITI’s Secretary-General, Datuk Seri J. Jayasiri said Malaysia had benefitted from ASEAN’s almost single market and preferential access to big markets such as China, India, Japan and South Korea. The Pacific Alliance is a Latin American trade bloc, comprising four member states, namely Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. “You will gain access to an almost US$3 billion (US$1=RM4.18) market by relocating your business to Malaysia,” he said. Datuk Seri Jayasiri cited the aerospace, automotive, halal, and small and medium enterprise sectors as the potential areas of collaboration between the parties. (Bernama)

Machinery & Equipment Sector Investments In H1 2017 Rises To RM709 Mln
Malaysia has approved investments worth RM709.7 million for 37 projects in the machinery and equipment (M&E) sector in the first half of 2017, compared with RM660 million for 35 projects in the same period last year. Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the industry was dominated by the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) which produced customised products, including end-to-end manufacturing from design to logistics, to fulfil the strong domestic and global demands. “I believe the industry’s productivity and competitiveness will increase if the SMEs adopt the Internet of Things (IoT) technology in their operations,” he said. Datuk Seri Mustapa urged local companies, SMEs and startup technopreneurs to explore the IoT as a means to add value to their products and services. (Bernama)

87% of Education Leaders Believe They Need To Be a Digital Institution to Succeed
Leaders in Asia Pacific’s education sector are showing urgency in embracing the 4th Industrial Revolution. 87% of them believe that they need to transform to a digital institution to enable future growth, yet only 23% said that they have a full digital strategy in place today. These are some of the key findings of the Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Survey, which seeks to understand how education leaders are embracing the digital era to prepare a future ready workforce. The Microsoft Asia Digital Transformation Study surveyed 1,494 business leaders from Asia Pacific working in organizations with more than 250 employees from 13 Asia Pacific markets. This included 265 respondents from higher education institutions and universities. All respondents were pre-qualified as being involved in shaping their institution’s digital strategy. Even as majority of education leaders are aware of the urgent need to transform digitally to address the changing landscape, the study found that the transformation journey for most educational institutions in Asia is still at its infancy. In fact, only 77% of education leaders indicated that they are either in progress with specific digital transformation initiatives, or have limited or no strategy in place. (Media Release)

Singapore suspends trade relations with North Korea
Singapore has suspended trade relations with North Korea, the latest of Pyongyang’s major trade partners to cut commercial ties under toughening United Nations sanctions over its weapons programme. The move comes about two months after the United States imposed North Korea-related sanctions on a number of firms and individuals, including two entities based in Singapore. “Singapore will prohibit all commercially traded goods from, or to, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK),” Singapore Customs said in the notice sent to traders and declaring agents. (CNA)

Two Singapore fintechs in ‘Emerging 50’ most promising fintech companies
TWO Singapore-based fintech companies – Silent8 and SoCash – feature among ‘Emerging 50’ most promising fintech companies in the 2017 Fintech100 released on November 15. China fintechs take the top three places on the list, and Chinese firms account for five of the top 10. The Fintech100 includes the ‘Leading 50’ fintech firms around the globe, ranked based on innovation, capital raising activity, size and reach; and the ‘Emerging 50’, exciting new fintechs that are at the forefront of innovative technologies and practices, and are often pursuing new business models. The Fintech100 is published by Fintech Innovators, a collaboration between Fintech investment firm H2 Ventures and KPMG Fintech. (DNA)