1. North Korea ‘committed to Korean denuclearisation’ in Beijing talks
  2. Gaggan wins top spot in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards for the fourth year in a row
  3. Retail industry to continue formidable role in Malaysia’s commercial property market
  4. AXA empower SMEs with insurance protection and alternative funding
  5. MyBazar, MDEC to focus on creating local digital entrepreneurs
  6. FAMA targets RM1 mln sales at Singapore Halal Fest 2018
  7. Japan gets 8 billion yuan during the 2018 season from Chinese tourists

North Korea ‘committed to Korean denuclearisation’ in Beijing talks
China’s State news agency Xinhua has confirmed a landmark meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Beijing. Kim Jong-un has promised President Xi that he will follow through the wishes of his father and grandfather in denuclearising the Korean peninsula, but added he wants assurances from the United States and South Korea. Kim added that if the US and South Korea were willing to respond to North Korea’s efforts with sincerity the nuclear issue “can be solved”. President Xi pledged to work with North Korea to achieve denuclearisation. “China is willing to continue to make a constructive impact on the Korean peninsula problem,” President Xi said. He called upon all sides to solve the problem through dialogue.

Gaggan wins top spot in the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants awards for the fourth year in a row
Gaggan, Bangkok’s self-styled “progressive Indian restaurant” heads the list of Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2018. The list was announced by the restaurant-ranking World’s 50 Best organization today. For the fourth year in a row, Gaggan Anand’s eponymous Bangkok restaurant takes the number 1 spot. The winning streak won’t last forever as Anand plans to close in 2020 to focus on some new projects. The list comes from the same organization responsible for the annual World’s 50 Best restaurants list. But, that ranking tends to favour European restaurants, and the organization highlights establishments that are often overlooked with its region-specific lists for both Asia and Latin America. In this year’s Asia 50 Best list, Den in Tokyo moved up tobsecond place position, replacing Singapore’s Restaurant André, which closed in February. Florilège, a French tasting menu restaurant in Tokyo; Sühring, a German restaurant in Bangkok; and Singapore restaurant Odette, which won the “Highest New Entry Award” last year, round out the top five.

Retail industry to continue formidable role in Malaysia’s commercial property market
Knight Frank Malaysia, an independent global property consultancy said the retail industry will continue to play a formidable role in Malaysia’s commercial property market. Its Associate Director of Retail Consultancy and Leasing, Rebecca Phan said despite the unfavourable sentiment surrounding the retail market, the sector would continue to attract investments as developers are expected to collaborate with experienced mall managers to enhance the attractiveness of their assets and remain competitive in the challenging operating environment. “In the current retail landscape, mall operators need to focus beyond the occupancy rate of malls as high occupancy rates no longer constitute high profitability,” she said in a statement today. While an immediate rebound in consumer spending was highly unlikely, she said, the phenomenon might be alleviated if proper measures were taken to prevent new retail developments from flooding the market. She said existing retail properties should also retool themselves to maintain their relevance..

AXA empower SMEs with insurance protection and alternative funding
AXA Affin General Insurance Berhad partners with Peoplender Sdn. Bhd. to provide Malaysia’s SMEs with complete peace of mind by protecting their businesses from the unforeseen. AAGI offers SMEs flexible, affordable and trade specific protection to ensure their business continuity and sustainability, while Fundaztic supports their business funding needs through P2P financing by connecting them to mass retail investors. “There is still a huge gap of financing for micro and small SMEs due to the size of their funding needs, internal banking policies, inability to provide the necessary collaterals required by banks and many other reasons. Funding is the key to drive growth and the lack of funding hampers the ability of many SMEs to scale their business,” Kristine Ng, Chief Executive Officer of Fundaztic commented. Crowdfunding in Malaysia is expected to grow following the introduction of regulatory frameworks for equity crowdfunding (ECF) in 2015 and P2P financing in 2016.

MyBazar, MDEC to focus on creating local digital entrepreneurs
To empower local entrepreneurs for digital economic growth, e-commerce marketplace MyBazar Malaysia has been appointed by Malaysian Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) as the first online platform to pilot a programme called Blee, which focuses on unlocking growth opportunities of the digital economy to local sellers. MyBazar, which commenced operations in June 2017 aims to break through to sellers of the non-urban areas by integrating social networking in their B2B2C marketplace, localised user-friendly interface and direct off-line merchant engagement. MyBazar initiates the Blee programme with 500 selected local merchants selling more than 2,000 products ranging from foodstuffs to fashion, home décor and handicrafts. Blee which stands for ‘Barangan Luarbiasa Eksklusif e-Usahawan’, aims to widen the reach and boost the adoption of ecommerce nationwide by targeting micro and rural merchants and entrepreneurs. This will directly contribute toward growth of local businesses as well as closing a commercial and income divide between rural and urban Malaysia. Malaysian consumers, on the other hand, will be able to access a dedicated all-local product shopping portal consisting of high quality local products which are exclusive, unique and hard-to-find in urban stores or shopping malls. On the economic front, the initiative intends to propel local micro businesses and grassroots entrepreneurs to the forefront and improve competitiveness by removing their location, trading and technology disadvantage. “We are aiming to get 1,500 merchants to be onboarded on the Blee programme by end of 2018,” added Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation Corporate Affairs Division vice president Mohd Razaleigh Zainal.

FAMA targets RM1 mln sales at Singapore Halal Fest 2018
The Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (FAMA) is targeting sales of RM1 million at the Singapore Halal Fest 2018, given the huge potential of Malaysian products in the republic. Johor Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperative Committee Chairman Ismail Mohamed said 49 local entrepreneurs would be taking part in the four-day exposition starting tomorrow. The fest features agro-based industrial products such as fruits and process foods, healthy food, beauty products, lifestyle items and Muslim women’s fashion. Ismail said FAMA’s role in the expo was to assist local entrepreneurs in tapping into new markets, as well as promote new Made In Malaysia products, as well as raise consumer awareness on Malaysian agro-food products to Singaporeans and tourists. Meanwhile, FAMA Senior Director (International Markets) Datuk Nazipah Jamaludin said Singapore was FAMA’s main focus this year in view of its proximity to Malaysia for easier monitoring of the progress of the entrepreneurs involved.

Japan gets 8 billion yuan during the 2018 season from Chinese tourists
As Japan Tourism is booming with the current cherry blossoms season, tourists from China marks the highest record touching 600,000. The cherry blossoms in Japan came early this year, painting the public parks in Japan with delicate shades of pastel pink. With them, came the Sakura tourists – including large numbers from China. The arrival of Chinese tourists touched around 600,000 which are expected to spend as much as 8 billion yuan during the 2018 season.