Malaysia’s Total Trade to Reach RM1.6 Tln This Year
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry is confident of Malaysia’s total trade increasing to RM1.6 trillion this year, as compared to RM1.49 trillion in 2016. Second Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said based on the pace of trade for the last six months, Malaysia can easily, at least, surpass last year’s trade value. This is taking into consideration the pace being sustained for the rest of the year, he added. “For the past six months, our trade has been doing very well. From January to June, the total trade touched RM859.17 billion, of which RM451.05 billion was from exports and RM408.12 billion, imports, with a surplus of RM42.93 billion. “Of the total exports, Electric and Electronics products recorded RM161 billion, proving that the country is transforming from commodity-based products towards those that are manufacturing related.”

Capitalise On Multi-lingual, Multi-ethnic Strengths, Malaysians Firms Told
The Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (MATRADE) has urged Malaysian industry players to make use of their multi-lingual and multi-ethnic strengths to complement China’s state-owned enterprises to expand further under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). MATRADE Chief Executive Officer, Dr Mohd Shahreen Zainooreen Madros said Malaysia’s strong position in Islamic financial, coupled with close relations with the Islamic nations, could also assist the Chinese companies move further among the 65 countries under the initiative. He said the BRI covered 65 countries with a combined population of 4.4 billion people, representing 63 per cent of the world’s population. “Hence, we should leverage on the opportunities and expand further, rather than just being a passive bystander,” he said.

Meanwhile, Dr Mohd. Shahreen said Malaysia is now China’s largest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. He said Malaysia had contended with tough competitor Vietnam, which was China’s biggest trading partner in ASEAN last year. “As of 1H2017, Malaysia’s bilateral trade with China expanded as much as 28% to RM139.2 billion, with a 41.2% surge in exports to RM59.79 billion, mostly being electrical and electronic products, petroleum products, chemicals and chemical products, rubber products, as well as LNG (liquefied natural gas),” Dr Mohd. Shahreen said.

ASEAN To Maintain Annual Growth Rate of Over Five Pct In Next Decade
ASEAN’s favourable demographics, steady urbanisation pace and growing middle class, leaves it poised to maintain a projected annual growth rate of over five per cent in the next decade, said the US – ASEAN Business Council. “ASEAN’s 630 million citizens make it the world’s third largest population and workforce, the fifth largest global economy and one of the youngest regions worldwide, with over 380 million people below 35 years old. “Since its establishment by the Bangkok Declaration on August 8, 1967 by founding members, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, ASEAN has seen increasing levels of economic prosperity, political stability and peace, the council said in a statement today.

This year also marks the 40th anniversary of the US-ASEAN Dialogue, which launched formal relations between the US and ASEAN. It was upgraded to a strategic partnership in 2015 and is an increasingly vital economic, political, and strategic link to the Asia Pacific. The Council was encouraged by the US government’s continued investments in ASEAN, including President Trump’s meetings with the leaders of Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam and his invitations to leaders of Thailand and the Philippines to visit him at the White House this year.

Trade unions welcome delay of Employment Insurance System Bill
The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) has welcomed the government’s decision to withdraw the Employment Insurance System (EIS) Bill, urging for a rational review of the strong opposition against the proposal. MTUC general secretary, J. Solomon, said the group has repeatedly called the Human Resource Ministry to discuss the issue with it to prevent the proposal from being executed without its agreement. “MTUC including all other parties are in favour of the EIS but that does not mean that the stakeholders accept in totality the laws that are out of context and unfavourable to workers to come into legislation,” he said in a statement. He said workers have since been invited for a discussion with the Finance Ministry tomorrow.

The EIS, which would allow retrenched workers to claim a portion of their insured salary for between three and six months of unemployment as well as allowances, was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat last week. Employers have since expressed misgivings over the proposed law that would provide a safety net for retrenched and unemployed workers, citing the added cost as well as apparent redundancies.

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