1. SMEs to tap a wider market following Lazada’s regional launch
  2. Travel Insurance refund for MSIG customers during GE14
  3. MATRADE achieves RM139 million in potential sales at DSA 2018
  4. Artificial Intelligence helps to pinpoint roots of gastric cancer
  5. Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts Makes a Pledge against Single-Use Plastic

Lazada launches regional trade with Digital Free Trade Zone
Starting today, over 100 Lazada sellers in Malaysia will begin marketing their products to buyers in Singapore, with seamless support from Lazada and the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ). This is a significant boost for online trade, allowing Malaysian small and medium enterprise owners to expand overseas, reaching out to new customers among Singapore’s population of 6 million. Through Lazada and the DFTZ, sellers enjoy a one-stop solution with more efficient cargo clearance and GST exemptions, and overall, export processes that are quick and hassle-free. In the pilot phase, over 50,000 products from various categories will be made available to Lazada Singapore shoppers. They include items from iconic Malaysian brands like Carlo Rino, Pensonic and Swan. This provides Malaysian brands increased visibility and representation in today’s global marketplace. The DFTZ is the first e-hub outside of China under the Electronic World Trade Platform. With Lazada and DFTZ, there is none of the administrative and legal hassles associated with entering new markets. A single contract grants access to Singapore in this rollout; and other Southeast Asia countries will be added subsequently. Business owners also need only upload their product information once and Lazada will replicate the content on local portals. The DFTZ provides a centralized bonded warehouse at KL International Airport (KLIA) Aeropolis, allowing efficient sharing of inventory among markets. The warehousing hub features advanced technology for sorting, shelving, packing and logistics.

Travel Insurance refund for MSIG customers during GE14
MSIG Malaysia has announced that it will be providing its travel insurance customers with a refund of their insurance premium if they decide to cancel their travel plans due to the upcoming Malaysian General Election. Customers who decide to cancel their travel plans because the polling date (9th May 2018) falls within their period of outbound travel will be eligible for a full premium refund. MSIG are also offering customers the option of changing their travel date without charging any additional premium, if they decide to postpone their travel to a new date within 90 days of the original travel date.

MATRADE achieves RM139 million in potential sales at DSA 2018
The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) has achieved RM193 million in potential sales from business-matching sessions facilitated during the Defence Services Asia 2018 (DSA 2018). The amount exceeds its initial target of RM25 million. Deputy Chief Executive Officer Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa said MATRADE organised about 100 business-matching meetings under its International Sourcing Programme (INSP) during the event. “This year we have 28 buyers from nine countries, which include South Korea, Myanmar, Thailand, the United Kingdom, Bangladesh and China, focusing on high-value sectors such as vessel sales, maintenance, repair and overhaul facility, and defence equipment, comprising surveillance products,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. He attributed the contributing factors to the astounding sales figures to the size of DSA 2018, which was much bigger this year than the previous years, and better defence product presentation, which was conducted at the newly-completed Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC).MATRADE’s involvement in the DSA 2018 includes assisting companies, mostly small and medium enterprises, in developing their own capabilities, as well as marketing and sourcing products overseas.

Artificial Intelligence helps to pinpoint roots of gastric cancer
In a pioneering study, scientists at A*STAR’s Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) have developed new machine learning computer models, a type of artificial intelligence (AI), to accurately pinpoint cancer mutations. They have also discovered new mutations in non-coding DNA (specifically, DNA that does not encode for proteins) which may cause gastric cancer. Furthermore, the innovative methods and technology developed through this study will aid researchers in understanding the impact of mutations in non-coding DNA in other cancer types. Gastric cancer (also known as stomach cancer) is the fourth most lethal cancer in the world. In this project, two new AI methods were created to scan the entire genomes of 212 gastric cancer tumours in a few months. The analysis would have otherwise taken 30 years to complete on a standard modern computer. Using computer clusters at GIS and the National Supercomputing Centre (NSCC) Singapore, the analysis uncovered several new cancer-associated mutation hotspots located throughout the genome. It also provided new evidence that mutations in the non-coding DNA may cause cancer by altering the 3-dimensional (3D) genome structure.

Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts Makes a Pledge against Single-Use Plastic
Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts has announced a pledge against single-use plastic. This is in support of Earth Day 2018 theme End Plastic Pollution and directly addresses the detrimental effect that plastic is having on the environment and marine life. With this declaration, the premium hotel operator and developer will implement a plan for all its properties to phase out the use of disposable plastics by Earth Day 2019. This will include plastic straws, plastic water bottles and disposable plastic cutlery. As the impact of climate change becomes increasingly evident, the group plans to intensify its sustainability efforts in 2018, in a bid to further its mission as a socially responsible business. Other than the organisation’s annual celebration of World Environment Day and World Food Day with its respective Greening Communities Together (June 2018) and Feeding Communities Together (October 2018) programmes, it also marked the Earth Hour event earlier this year with resounding success. In total, 37 out of 43 Banyan Tree properties across 12 countries participated (along with 12,682 guests and associates) in the global movement to raise awareness on the importance of climate action. The international effort saw a total saving of 2970.97kWh of energy, which is approximately the global average of the annual household energy consumption. In addition, Banyan Tree will also be introducing signature Sustainable Itineraries across its properties for the environmental-conscious travellers. The Sustainable Itineraries will be launched later this year.