Highlights:
  1. No stamp duties for residential units priced RM300,000 to RM1m at Mapex
  2. SC Introduces Framework to Facilitate Trading of Digital Assets in Malaysia
  3. US Treasury Secretary upbeat after first day of US-China trade war talks in Washington
  4. Lazada to fold RedMart into its platform, signals entry into online supermarket business
  5. More locals employed in Singapore, overall improvement in labour market in 2018
No stamp duties for residential units priced RM300,000 to RM1m at Mapex The Malaysia Property Expo (Mapex), in conjunction with the Home Ownership Campaign (HOC) 2019, will see residential units priced between RM300,000 and RM1mil being exempted from any stamp duties. In a statement today, HOC organising chairman Datuk NK Tong urged financial institutions to participate in the campaign. The expo, which will be from March 1 to 3, is expected to see 180 developers showcasing over 20,000 units of overhang properties worth RM22.5bil with attractive discounts or packages for home buyers. Other than private developers, several government and government-linked agencies will also be taking part in HOC 2019, namely the Housing and Local Government Ministry, Uda Holdings Bhd, Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia, Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd and Permodalan Nasional Bhd. Mapex is being jointly organised by the Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association (Rehda) Malaysia and the Local Government Ministry. SC Introduces Framework to Facilitate Trading of Digital Assets in Malaysia The Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) today amended its Guidelines on Recognized Markets to introduce new requirements for electronic platforms that facilitate the trading of digital assets. Under the revised guidelines, any person who is interested in operating a digital asset platform is required to apply to the SC to be registered as a recognized market operator. “The new framework is part of the SC’s efforts to promote innovation while ensuring investor protection in the trading of digital assets,” said Datuk Syed Zaid Albar, SC Chairman. He added that while there is a framework to facilitate the trading of digital assets, investors are reminded to be mindful of the risks when dealing in digital assets such as sudden price fluctuations and liquidity risks. The amended guidelines follow the coming into force of the Capital Markets and Services (Prescription of Securities) (Digital Currency and Digital Token) Order 2019 on 15 January 2019. Any person who is interested to operate a digital asset platform, including those operating within the current transitional period, have to submit an application to the SC by 1 March 2019. US Treasury Secretary upbeat after first day of US-China trade war talks in Washington US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said US and Chinese officials had a “good conversation” during the opening session of their high-stakes trade talks in Washington. With the negotiations set to continue on Thursday, after which Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He is expected to meet US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, it remains to be seen if the two sides can build on their “good” start. Mnuchin was the most forthcoming of the officials. His colleague Larry Kudlow, one of Trump’s top economic advisers, refused to comment, while Chinese vice-minister for finance Liao Min said only that he was heading out for dinner. Although talks between mid-level officials in Beijing earlier this month were generally considered a success – Trump tweeted at the time that they were “going very well” – analysts are concerned that the two economic giants remain poles apart on key issues, from market access to intellectual property protection and the subsidisation of China’s state-owned companies. The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) has said it is pushing for an enforcement and verification mechanism to ensure China follows through on commitments such as removing forced technology transfers. Lazada to fold RedMart into its platform, signals entry into online supermarket business E-commerce company Lazada today announced it will make its foray into the online supermarket business in Southeast Asia starting with Singapore, with the integration of RedMart into its platform. RedMart, which Lazada acquired for an undisclosed sum in November 2016, will move over to the e-commerce platform from March 15 this year. Lazada said this will allow shoppers to buy groceries and fresh produce along with the other products already on its site in a single location.  Orders on the new RedMart on Lazada will continue to be fulfilled by the online grocer in customers’ chosen delivery slots between 7am and 10pm, while orders with other Lazada sellers will be fulfilled separately, the press release said. Existing RedMart customers can continue shopping on the existing app and website until 11.59pm on March 14, before the migration kicks in. More locals employed in Singapore, overall improvement in labour market in 2018 Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said the country’s labour market improved in 2018, with employment of locals growing over the year. MOM said the annual average unemployment rates were lower than a year ago, while retrenchments were “significantly fewer”. Total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, increased by 15,600 in Q4. That was slightly lower than the 16,700 increase in Q3, the report revealed. “The increase was due to employment growth in services, primary from seasonal hiring. Manufacturing employment decreased over the quarter, while Construction employment was unchanged,” MOM said. Overall in 2018, total employment, excluding foreign domestic workers, grew by 39,300, with the growth among locals at 28,400 – more than double that of foreigners. Local growth was primarily in the services industries, such as community, social and personal services, and financial and insurance services.