Highlights:

  1. US-China conflict has positive impact on local SMEs
  2. RHB Research retains GDP growth forecast at 5.2 per cent
  3. Call for event enterprises to grab business opportunities in Hainan
  4. High Court dismisses gag order by Najib

Malaysian manufacturers profiting from US-China conflict
The US-China trade dispute has started to benefit Malaysian manufacturers as exporters from the two countries are looking for alternative sources of materials. Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (SME Malaysia) National President Datuk Michael Kang Hua Keong said based on feedback from its members, the trade friction had already made a positive impact on local manufacturers. “For some of our members, their sales have increased,” he told reporters during a briefing in Kuala Lumpur today on the upcoming Smart Manufacturing Exhibition (SMEX) 2018 organised by China’s Ministry of Commerce Trade Development Bureau and CMEC International Exhibition Co Ltd. Datuk Kang cited an example of a Penang-based cable manufacturer which had secured additional orders worth US$5 million from both US and China customers in the last two months.

Ong Yew Chee, Director (China and Northeast Asia Section) of Malaysia External Trade and Development Corporation’s (Matrade) Exports Promotion and Market Access Division, said Malaysia and other countries in the region were expected to experience an increase in investment inflows following the trade friction. “They will look at Malaysia because we are not (directly) impacted by the tariffs,” he explained. According to Ong, US President Trump’s administration’s imposition of increased tariffs on China offers Malaysia and other countries a competitive advantage to market products in the United States. However, he remained hopeful the conflict would not escalate into a full-blown trade war. “It (a trade war) would give a lot of problems to many countries, not only Malaysia, because the whole world is interdependent in terms of the flow of trade,” he said. Ong noted that the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, which last month set up a task force to study the impact of the trade conflict, had been monitoring the development closely.

The four-day SMEX 2018, which begins on Aug 15 in Kuala Lumpur, has attracted the participation of 93 companies from Malaysia and China. They cover seven sectors, including metalworking, robotic and industrial automation, components, wire and tube, energy, logistics and new energy vehicles. The exhibition will also feature a series of high-level forums on Industry 4.0, Belt and Road Initiative and Smart Manufacturing.

RHB Research retains GDP growth forecast at 5.2 per cent
RHB Research Institute has maintained its 2018 gross domestic product (GDP) growth forecast for Malaysia at 5.2 per cent – easing from 5.9 per cent last year – on a slowdown in external trade, which is partly cushioned by resilient domestic demand. In a note, Economist Vincent Loo Yeong Hong said it maintained the lower growth forecast as industrial activities grew at the slowest pace in four years, with the Industrial Production Index growth moderating to 1.1 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in June. “The slowdown was mainly due to a sharp fall in the mining sector’s production but mitigated by improvements in manufacturing and electricity production numbers. “As it stands, mining activity output fell by a wider margin of 9.4 per cent y-o-y in June, after contracting 0.5 per cent in May, led by a sharp fall in natural gas output, although crude oil output declined at a softer pace,” he said. Loo said the electricity and manufacturing output picked up in June to three per cent and 4.5 per cent y-o-y, respectively due to broad-based improvement in output growth across the sectors except petroleum, chemical, rubber and plastic, transport equipment, and other manufactures.

Call for worldwide event enterprises to grab business opportunities in Hainan, China
Hainan Provincial Convention & Exhibition Bureau invites worldwide first-class event enterprises (MICE) to set up offices, hold and participate in conventions and exhibitions in Hainan, China. The enterprises will benefit from Hainan’s reform and opening-up and share opportunities from construction of the Hainan Free Trade Zone and Port. Hainan is one of the global attractions of recreational tourism and an ideal place for large international events. MICE was included in 12 key industries of Hainan in 2015 and developed rapidly in 2017. From August 10 to 11, the 4th China Events (MICE) Industry Fair (CEIF) will be held at Shanghai New International Expo Center and Redsail MICE is the brand exhibition company of Hainan will participate. Redsail MICE released a new strategic positioning to the world in the theme of “new opportunities, new positioning and new journey”.

High Court dismisses gag order by Najib
The Kuala Lumpur High Court has dismissed an application for a gag order by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s lawyers to limit the merits of his criminal cases being published in mainstream media. High Court judge Justice Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali, in passing his judgment, explained the motion as unsustainable and in violation of freedom of speech. “Decisions on the case will be made based on evidence presented in court and nothing else. “Freedom of speech is curtailed by and subjected to existing laws on contempt and defamation, which already provides a safeguard and can be pursued if there is any wrongdoing,” he said. Lead defence counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in acknowledging the judgment, said the defence would appeal the decision on the gag order on Monday in the Appellate Court in Putrajaya.