Highlights:

  1. Employers to fork out RM10,000 extension fee for foreign workers
  2. Oil prices hit four-year-high
  3. MITI plans to set up textile design federation
  4. Malaysia ready to beef up local association’s pedigree
  5. Bangkok Remains Top Destination in Asia Pacific

Employers to fork out RM10,000 extension fee for foreign workers
Employers will have to fork out the full RM10,000 annual fee if they wish to extend the services of foreign workers — for a duration of up to three years — who have worked in the country for a decade. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said he had taken note of the feedback that foreign workers would not be able to afford to pay 80 per cent of the annual extension fee, which was the initial arrangement for the extension. “It was reported in the news today that employers said their workers would not be able to bear 80 per cent of the cost and had asked to not implement the fee. “However, we have given them leeway, which is not easy. Before this, foreign workers would have to go back. So now we let them extend their stay, but with the condition that they have to pay RM10,000,” he told reporters in Putrajaya. “I would like to clarify that this does not change the current RM1,850 levy fee, which is the yearly cost paid by employers for the first 10 years of employment. The extension of foreign workers’ employment tenure was agreed in an August 29 Cabinet meeting and will commence on October 1.

Oil prices hit four-year-high of $81 amid looming Iran sanctions
Oil prices hit a four-year high of $81.48 a barrel on Tuesday after Saudi Arabia and Russia appeared to reject calls from the US to increase production amid looming sanctions against Iranian oil. Brent crude hit its highest level since November 2014 at $81.48 a barrel, just days after a meeting in the Algerian capital to discuss global supply levels ended with no formal agreement. US President Donald Trump slammed the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) last week, saying the 15-member oil cartel should keep crude prices low because of the military protection the US provided for the region. OPEC leader Saudi Arabia and its biggest oil-producer ally outside the group, Russia, effectively rebuffed President Trump’s demand to lower prices on Sunday and failed to provide answers on how they would counter falling supplies from Iran. Commodity traders Trafigura and Mercuria have warned that Brent crude prices could rise to $90 a barrel by December and pass $100 in early 2019.

MITI plans to set up textile design federation
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry plans to set up a federation related to the textile design industry in order to help fashion entrepreneurs build their future. Its secretary-general Datuk Isham Ishak said the government and private sector could cooperate to create a bright future for the textile design industry. “Hence, it’s not only you designing the fashion for people, but we also want to help them to design the future,” he said. Malaysia’s textile and apparel exports amounted to RM15.3 billion in 2017.

Malaysia ready to beef up local association’s pedigree
Successfully positioned as the preferred destination for business events, Malaysia will welcome the UIA Associations Round Table Asia Pacific 2018 (UIA 2018) from 26-27 September 2018. Organised by the Union of International Associations (UIA), the notable centennial event is a conference which focuses on development for associations across industries to ensure collective growth. Unlike many events with local organisers as part of the team, UIA 2018 is purely hosted by the Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) when the Bureau emerged triumph in being awarded last year. UIA 2018 is slated to showcase Malaysia to 120 international delegates from 15 countries. While the number of arrivals may be minor due to its niche, the value generated is an estimated RM 943,000 in economic total economic value. UIA 2018 is a golden opportunity for local associations to gain exposure and connect to international decision makers and experts. The increase clout will help the associations’ respective industry to stimulate social and economic growth.

Bangkok Remains Top Destination in Asia Pacific
With roughly 20 million international overnight visitors in 2017, Bangkok remains in the top spot this year. Visitors tend to stay in Bangkok 4.7 nights and spend $173 per day, on average. Singapore kept its spot as the fifth most visited destination for two years in a row, according to the Mastercard Global Destination Cities Index 2018. Boasting a 6.1% growth with 13.91 million international visitors in 2017, Singapore has more than doubled its growth forecast of 2.6%. The top five origin market for Singapore are China (18.8%), Indonesia (15%), India (8.3%), Australia (6.1%) and Malaysia (5.2%). With the global economy buzzing, the annual growth of international overnight visitors to the top 10 destination cities rose across the board in 2017 except in Seoul, which saw a dip. The forecast for 2018 indicates across-the-board growth, with Istanbul expecting the most uptick in visitors. Tourists from China continue to top the list of origin countries for travel to Asia Pacific. Southeast Asian cities, such as Bangkok, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket, Pattaya, and Bali are fast becoming must-visit destinations for Chinese tourists.  Phuket is the most popular destination for Chinese tourists, with a growth rate of 56.1 percent in the last eight years (2009 – 2017, CAGR basis). As one of the fastest growing tourism regions in the world, Southeast Asia attracted some of the highest spending visitors. The top three Southeast Asian destinations within the Global Top 10 by Expenditure – Singapore, Bangkok and Phuket – captured US$43.85 billion of total expenditure by international overnight tourists. Singapore, a renowned shopper’s destination in Asia Pacific, retained its lead as the top city in terms of visitor expenditure, attracting the highest spending visitors at US$286 per day.