Highlights:

  1. Malaysia is the 22nd most competitive in world ranking for competitiveness
  2. Malaysia wins big at International Medical Tourism Awards
  3. Government recognises FDI which contributes to country’s progress
  4. Government guarantees help for Bumiputera contractors
  5. Singapore’s MTI Expects GDP growth to be 2.5 to 3.5 per cent in 2018
  6. Asia Pulp & Paper Marks 5th Anniversary of its Forest Conservation Policy

Malaysia is the 22nd most competitive in world ranking for competitiveness

The United States is the world’s most competitive economy in an annual ranking released today by Switzerland-based research group IMD World Competitiveness Centre. The United States took the top spot, propelled by high rankings in the economic performance and infrastructure categories. It leapfrogged from last year’s fourth position to displace Hong Kong – last year’s leader – which slipped to the second spot. Singapore held on to its spot as the world’s third-most competitive economy. Rounding up the top five were the Netherlands and Switzerland. The former moved up one spot due to a “balanced” performance in all categories, while the latter fell three positions to be ranked fifth with an export slowdown among contributing factors. Professor Arturo Bris, director of the IMD World Competitiveness Centre, described the high-ranking economies as having “an above-the-average performance across all competitiveness factors” though their competitiveness mix varies. In the case of Singapore, strong government efficiency remained its biggest asset. Across Asia, the economies saw a mixed bag of results in this year’s ranking of 63 countries benchmarked against 258 indicators. While China (13th), Japan (25th), South Korea (27th), Malaysia (22nd) and India (44th) saw improvements, Taiwan (17th), Thailand (30th) and Indonesia (43rd) slipped down the charts.

Malaysia wins big at International Medical Tourism Awards

Malaysia strengthened itself as a health and medical tourism destination by bagging nine awards at the International Medical Travel Journal (IMTJ) Medical Travel Awards last night in Athens, Greece. The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) won Health and Medical Tourism Cluster of the Year as well as the Highly Commended award under Health and Medical Tourism Destination of the Year at the annual event. Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur took home the International Hospital of the Year and Best Marketing Initiative awards as well as the Highly Commended award under Excellence in Customer Service. TMC Fertility Centre won for International Fertility Clinic of the Year and Best Quality Initiative, the National Heart Institute of Malaysia (IJN) won the International Specialist Patient Centre of the Year award, while Beverly Wilshire Medical Centre won the International Cosmetic Surgery Clinic of the Year award.

Government recognises FDI which contributes to country’s progress

Professor Jomo Kwame Sundaram, a member of the Council Of Eminent Persons, said the Pakatan Harapan government recognises the importance of foreign direct investments (FDIs) and technology transfers from abroad. The economist said Malaysia appreciated investments that contributed to the country’s progress, such as 5G telecommunications, artificial intelligence applications, financial technologies, renewable energy, new medicines and electric vehicles. “The new government clearly favours productive industrial investments, especially with Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s commitment to accelerate Malaysian technological progress,” he said in a letter to the Financial Times. “Caricaturing the country’s political debate over investments from China risks misleading all concerned.

In a related development, President of the Malaysian Malay Contractors Association, Datuk Mokhtar Samad said the Council of Eminent Persons (CEP) has given the assurance that Bumiputera contractors will continue to be assisted under the new government. Datuk Mokhtar was among those who were called up by the Council to identify improvements that could be taken to assist the Bumiputera contractors.  “The CEP, chaired by Tun Daim Zainuddin, has guaranteed that the new government will help Bumiputera contractors using better ways than what was done before. “They will not be left behind, and those with talent and capability will be helped. I am not denying that Bumiputera contractors still need support,” he told reporters after the meeting with the CEP in Kuala Lumpur.

Singapore’s MTI Expects GDP Growth to be “2.5 to 3.5 Per Cent” in 2018

The Ministry of Trade and Industry expects GDP growth for 2018 to come in at “2.5 to 3.5 per cent”, compared to the “1.5 to 3.5 per cent” announced previously. The Singapore economy grew by 4.4 per cent on a year-on-year basis in the first quarter, higher than the 3.6 per cent growth in the previous quarter. On a quarter-on-quarter seasonally-adjusted annualised basis, the economy expanded by 1.7 per cent, moderating from the 2.1 per cent growth in the preceding quarter. The manufacturing sector grew by 9.8 per cent year-on-year, extending the 4.8 per cent growth in the previous quarter. The sector’s growth was primarily driven by the electronics, precision engineering and chemicals clusters, which expanded by 19.2 per cent, 14.0 per cent and 10.0 per cent respectively. “Taking into account the strong performance of the Singapore economy in the first quarter and the slightly improved external demand outlook for Singapore, MTI expects GDP growth for 2018 to come in at “2.5 to 3.5 per cent”, barring the full materialisation of downside risks.”

Asia Pulp & Paper Marks 5th Anniversary of its Forest Conservation Policy

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) today marked the 5th anniversary of its landmark sustainability commitment, the Forest Conservation Policy (FCP). Under the policy, which was developed with the assistance of NGOs and other partners, APP committed itself to achieving deforestation-free supply chain, and to advance towards becoming a more sustainable business. At an event for stakeholders, APP reviewed the progress it has made since 2013, identified challenges, and restated commitments to areas of continuing effort. The FCP comprises four commitments; to protect natural forests, to better manage peatlands, to partner with local communities, and to implement a sustainable supply chain. Since the FCP was established in February 2013, APP has made substantial progress on many of these commitments. These include ending natural forest conversion by its pulpwood suppliers, and transitioning to sourcing 100% plantation fibre for its production and ensuring its supply chain continues to be free from deforestation, robust systems have been implemented and compliances are third-party verified. APP has also engaged local communities, working collaboratively to improve livelihoods and to transfer knowledge to the villagers on modern, more sustainable, farming techniques. In the five years since implementing the FCP, APP has invested about USD300 million in forest monitoring systems, landscape restoration, fire prevention and peatland research and community engagement, among others. The company also invested in identifying areas of High Conservation Value and High Carbon Stock, and detailed maps of peatlands, in and around its supplier concessions. This information has been vital in helping APP identify critical landscapes that need to be preserved and protected.