Highlights:

  1. SMEs post growth of 7.2% in 2017
  2. Malaysia’s exports to grow 9.3 pct this year
  3. Shahril Ridza Ridzuan is new Khazanah head
  4. Kuala Lumpur is fourth top meeting destination in Asia Pacific
  5. LG set to define future of AI with new research labs

SME growth rises to 7.2 pct in 2017
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) posted a growth of 7.2 per cent to RM435.1 billion in 2017, higher than the 5.2 per cent posted in 2016. Minister of International Trade and Industry, Darell Leiking (pic) said the growth was across all major economic sectors including services, manufacturing and agriculture. He added that SMEs’ contribution to the national gross domestic product (GDP) increased to 37.1 per cent in 2017 from 36.6 per cent in 2016. He is confident that by 2020, the SMEs’ plan to contribute 41 per cent to the country’s GDP will be achieved, exports will hit 23 per cent and employment 65 per cent. The Minister said that going forward, SMEs are expected to assume a greater role, not only as an enabler but also as a key driver of growth. He noted that in the last 14 years (2004-2017), real GDP growth of SMEs has consistently outperformed the overall economy, averaging at 6.6 per cent compared with 5.1 per cent growth for the overall GDP.

Khazanah names EPF chief as new MD
Khazanah Nasional has appointed Employees Provident Fund (EPF) chief executive Datuk Shahril Ridza Ridzuan as its new managing director. A statement from Khazanah said Datuk Shahril will assume the position effective August 20. Datuk Shahril joined the EPF from Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad, having overseen the development of KL Sentral as its managing director. Prior to MRCB, he was with Pengurusan Danaharta Nasional and helped in the corporate recovery and credit restructuring following the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997.

MIDF Research: Malaysia’s exports to grow 9.3 pct this year
Malaysia’s export is forecast to expand at an average of 9.3 per cent in 2018 compared with 18.9 per cent in 2017, underpinned by optimistic signs of key global indicators and gradual recovery in commodities prices. MIDF Research said the moderating pace was mainly due to a higher base effect and in tandem with the expectation of slight slowdown in overall business performance. “In fact, for the first half of 2018, exports growth was recorded at 7.0 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y), which is far lower than 20.9 per cent y-o-y registered in the first half of 2017. “Brewing trade tensions between the US and not only China but also some other countries, on top of escalating geopolitical tensions, could be a headwind to global trade including Malaysia,” it added. Meanwhile, Malaysia’s trade in the first half of 2018 rose 5.3 per cent to RM904.73 billion compared with RM859.18 billion in the same period last year.

Cvent Unveils List of Top Meeting Destinations in Asia-Pacific for 2018
Cvent, Inc., a market leader in meetings, events, and hospitality technology, today released its annual list of the top cities for meetings and events in Asia-Pacific (APAC). The list was compiled based on sourcing activity through the Cvent Supplier Network. In 2017, more than 40 million room nights worldwide and $14.7 billion of business were sourced through the Cvent Supplier Network – helping to support more than 715,000 events around the globe. Singapore top the list for 2018, followed by Sydney, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Hong Kong. Shanghai is 6th ahead of Melbourne, New Delhi, Tokyo and Mumbai. “The cities featured in this year’s Top Destinations lists have invested significant time, energy, and resources into building premier locations that entice organizations, large and small, to plan meetings and events in their areas,” said Chris McAndrews, Vice President of Marketing for Cvent’s Hospitality Cloud. “Meetings have become a major economic driver for cities worldwide. Because of this positive impact, destinations are pulling out all the stops to attract MICE business, and we expect to see this healthy competition continue.” Destinations around the world compete on a variety of factors including the accessibility of the destination and facilities for events, price and price flexibility, quality of facilities, quality of services, personal safety for attendees, and having a point of differentiation. Cvent evaluated more than 11,000 cities worldwide to compile the seventh annual global list. Activity was tracked from January 2017 through December 2017.

LG set to define future of AI with new research labs
Global innovator LG Electronics Inc. is poised to define the future of artificial intelligence (AI) for consumers and businesses in the years ahead with the establishment of a major new AI research presence in North America in collaboration with leaders in academia and start-ups. This week marks the launch of the new LG Electronics AI Research Lab in Canada, an extension of the newly expanded LG Silicon Valley AI Lab in Santa Clara, California. Supporting LG’s vision of AI as a key future growth engine, the North American labs further enhance LG’s global research capabilities, which include AI labs in South Korea, India and Russia. In addition, LG is entering into a new research partnership with the University of Toronto, which is recognized worldwide for its AI and machine learning expertise, particularly in the area of deep learning. “AI will ultimately touch everybody’s lives, transforming the way we live, work and play,” said LG Electronics President and Chief Technology Officer Dr. I.P. Park. “Early implementations of AI in connected devices today are setting the stage for tomorrow’s smart cities, smart homes, smart businesses and smart devices, all with capabilities that no one has even dreamed of yet.” He said the North American labs and LG’s research partnership with the University of Toronto will play a key role in developing source technologies defining that future. Under its five-year, multi-million-dollar research partnership with the University of Toronto, LG will build on its Open Platform-Open Partnership-Open Connectivity strategy to expand the AI ecosystem. The new lab will capitalize on the expertise of researchers at the University of Toronto who will now have the opportunity to work collaboratively with LG’s growing U.S. and Canadian AI R&D teams. Complementing this work, LG intends to collaborate with and invest in North American start-ups.