• Malaysia to consider FTA With US if TPPA does not materialise
  • Minister urges SMEs to step up to remain competitive
  • Funding Societies and Cheng & Co announce partnership to enhance and simplify financing access for SMEs
  • Malaysia on track to grow global tech start-up ecosystem
  • Singapore targets 3,000 jobs in financial services sector annually under new Industry Transformation Map
  • Worldwide ride-sharing market could reach $285 billion annually by 2030.

Malaysia To Consider FTA With US If TPPA Does Not Materialise
Malaysia will consider a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement fails to materialise. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Malaysia and the US are committed to continuing with the dialogue in discussing trade and investment issues, via the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. “In respect of the TPPA, the Malaysian delegation and I had a dialogue with members of the US Congress and urged them to stick with the TPPA members to make the agreement a success. “If it does not materialise, I have proposed that the TPPA model be incorporated into a bilateral agreement such as a FTA which has been postponed since 2008,” he added. Datuk Seri Najib said the US is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner with total trade at RM135.9 billion in 2016.

MITI Minister Urges SMEs To Step Up Their Game
International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed has urged local industry players, in particular, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to step up their game to sustain their businesses and remain competitive. He said the extension of the Principal Hub Tax Incentive until December 31, 2020 as announced in the recent Budget 2018, would not only make Malaysia an attractive location for more foreign companies to utilise it, but also establish a need for the talent and capabilities of local SMEs to complement the foreign businesses within it. “We have about 975,000 local SMEs. I anticipate that foreign SMEs who want to set up their hub here will also seek more opportunities with local counterparts, such as joint ventures and so forth,” he said in his keynote address at the National Supply Chain Conference 2017. Datuk Seri Mustapa said the Principal Hub Initiative introduced in 2015 had approved 27 applications from multinational companies to establish their regional and global headquarters in Malaysia. The initiative had also resulted in business spending of over RM230 million and utilisation of local ancillary services worth around RM20 million annually, as well as the creation of high-valued jobs.

Funding Societies and Cheng & Co announce partnership to enhance and simplify financing access for SMEs
Funding Societies and Cheng & Co have engaged in a strategic partnership to broaden and simplify access to business financing for creditworthy Malaysian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Cheng & Co, a leading and established home-grown accounting firm, will refer promising SMEs in need of financing to Funding Societies, the first and largest peer-to-peer (P2P) financing platform in the country. In turn, Funding Societies will provide working capital to eligible SMEs through its investor base. The arrangement is the first partnership between a P2P financing platform with an accounting firm in Malaysia. P2P financing platforms such as Funding Societies connect SMEs with investors through an online marketplace, thereby increasing access to financing for the SME sector. By investing into SMEs, investors could earn returns up to 14% per year, higher than fixed deposits, bonds, and other traditional instruments. Meanwhile, SMEs could obtain up to RM500,000 in working capital financing to expand their business through a fast and simple online-based process. SMEs do not need to provide collateral as part of the financing requirements, while interest costs are minimized due to short financing tenors. According to estimates cited by the Securities Commission, the Malaysian SME sector has a financing gap of more than RM 80 billion. Market-based financing like Funding Societies, may provide alternative solutions to address the financing needs of Malaysian SMEs.

Malaysia on Track to Grow Global Tech Start-up Ecosystem
Malaysia reaffirmed its position as a regional hub for tech start-ups with the announcement of leading global venture builders setting presence in Malaysia to help accelerate the growth of start-ups in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Mountain Partners, a Swiss-headquartered company builder, will set-up their Southeast Asia operations hub in Malaysia. The set-up will see Mountain Partners helping more than 15 of their global portfolio companies expand into Malaysia by creating their presence here, and creating more than 400 job opportunities, including more than 50 top C-suite talent roles. Mountain Partners will also set-up a USD100 million fund to invest in Malaysia and Southeast Asia tech start-ups.

Additionally, the partnership between the private equity firm Leonie Hill Capital and Japan-based IP Bridge will see Malaysia as the home ground for their venture building initiative that will invest and nurture Malaysia and Southeast Asia innovative Intellectual Property-based tech start-ups, particularly in IoT, sensor and wearable technology, agri-tech and food-tech. The partnership, through IP Bridge’s global expansion initiative, ManGO Factory, will also relocate more than 10 Southeast Asian and Japanese start-ups in Malaysia, providing them with facilities, access and market opportunities in Malaysia and Japan. Leonie Hill Capital will provide expertise in commercialization, while IP Bridge will provide expertise on Intellectual Property strategy and advisory.

3,000 new jobs annually in Singapore’s Financial Services Sector under Transformation Map
The financial services sector in Singapore has set itself a new and ambitious benchmark – achieving better productivity, a higher growth than the overall economy and creating thousands of jobs each year up to 2020. The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) announced this with the launch of the Industry Transformation Map (ITM) for the sector today. The ITM outlines growth strategies for the sector, which includes focusing on supporting Asia’s development, introducing programmes to upgrade skills and leveraging technological advancements within the sector. MAS board member Ong Ye Kung said the ITM is expected to achieve a 4.3 per cent industry GDP growth each year over the medium term. This is “nearly twice” as fast as the overall economy, he said.

Investors fuel a multibillion-dollar ride-sharing frenzy
Investors including Japan’s SoftBank and Google-parent Alphabet are fuelling a drive to a ride-sharing future, betting on startups such as industry giants Uber and Lyft which have so far failed to deliver profits. The frenzied pace of investment suggests optimism over a new model that has disrupted local taxi and transport operations around the globe.
A recent Goldman Sachs study projected that the worldwide ride-sharing market could grow eight-fold by the year 2030, reaching $285 billion annually. Lyft, which is Uber’s main rival in the United States, raised a billion dollars in a recent investment round led by an investment arm of Alphabet. That means the Google parent now has investments in both Uber and Lyft. Ride-sharing services are seen as promising early users of the technology, letting people shun vehicle ownership in favor of simply summoning rides whenever they wish with the machines doing all the work. With cars navigating themselves, passengers will likely spend more time immersed in on-board entertainment or services, likely streamed via wireless internet connections. Google and other online titans would profit from going along for the ride.