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Netflix partners with WEF Digital ASEAN to further develop 4.0 IR

KUALA LUMPUR, Netflix has pledged to work with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Digital ASEAN working group to help people and governments in Southeast Asia develop creative and digital skills and capabilities for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4.0 IR).

In a statement today, Netflix said the pledge was part of WEF’s ASEAN Digital Skills Vision 2020 programme, a private-public project involving a coalition of organisations that seeks to train up 20 million workers in digital skills by 2020.

The initiative gained further urgency when a recent WEF-commissioned survey of 56,000 ASEAN youths found that 52 per cent believed they needed to upgrade their skills constantly to succeed in a changing job market. On top of that, they ranked creativity and innovation as the most important skill for their future, it said.

Netflix Asia-Pacific managing director Yu-Chuang Kuek said that having the necessary skills for the creative industry; being equipped for online safety and digital literacy, as well as understanding the principles for an agile governance framework, would be integral to the success of initiatives such as the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan.

As Netflix grows, we are partnering with Southeast Asian governments and industry players to support the development of digital creative skills needed in a fast-developing Internet entertainment landscape, he added.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Trade tensions to weigh on Malaysias export growth by -0.5 To -0.8 ppt: BNM

KUALA LUMPUR, The ongoing trade disputes between the United States and China are projected to weigh on Malaysia’s 2019 baseline gross export growth by -0.5 to -0.8 percentage point (ppt) , said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM).

The central bank said the prolonged trade disputes and the resulting impact on lower global trade has mainly affected Malaysia’s trade activity, with exports to affected countries lower (direct channel), while exports to countries within the global value chain (GVC – indirect channel) have also been affected.

In its quarterly bulletin on the economic and financial developments for the second quarter released today, BNM pointed out that the GVC channel would contribute about 20 per cent of the decline.

Additionally, the impact of lower trade activity on growth is also compounded by increased business uncertainty.

However, should the downside risks from the ongoing trade dispute materialise, Malaysia’s export growth could potentially be reduced by up to an additional -0.2 ppt and gross domestic product (GDP) growth by about -0.1 ppt this year.

Meanwhile, BNM said the trade tensions have induced heightened volatility in financial markets and generated substantial uncertainties for firms planning to invest and policymakers striving to promote growth.

A reflection of the recent past suggests that trade tensions will continue, possibly into the medium to long term, it said.

Thus, the central bank suggested smaller countries that are well-integrated in the GVC must tread carefully to avoid circumventing established trade restrictions of the major economies.

In this environment of heightened uncertainty, swift, nimble and adroit policy measures are critical to ensure that Malaysia remains resilient and well-positioned to weather any downside risk of a trade war, it said.

It said structural reforms such as promoting high value-added industries, diversifying export products and markets, enhancing labour market flexibility, and attracting quality investments that would create high-value jobs should continue to be pursued.

In the meantime, Malaysia’s position in the GVC should be consistently reassessed in order to leverage on opportunities to fortify the country’s role in the ecosystem.

Malaysia must also proactively pursue multilateral and bilateral trade pacts with other economies.

Crucially, these policy thrusts will contribute towards enhancing the resilience of the Malaysian economy, the central bank said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

12MP: Kuantan has the potential to be transport, logistics hubs

KUANTAN, The capital of Pahang, Kuantan has the potential to be developed as a transportation and logistics hubs under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) 2021-2025, according to a statement by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

The potential of Kuantan Port and Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Airport as the logistics and transportation hubs were deliberated during the 12MP preparation session at Wisma Sri Pahang here today.

The closed-door meeting was jointly chaired by Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali and Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail.

Today’s meeting also discussed on how the revival of East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project by the Federal government has strengthened the position of Kuantan Port in ASEAN and Asia Pacific region, according to the statement today.

It added that the 12th Malaysian Plan also looked at industrial areas in East Coast to add value to the ECRL project.

Pahang, as the largest state in Peninsular Malaysia according to the statement, has a big potential to increase its contribution to the country’s economy.

Today’s discussion was the first step in the restructuring of the economy to correct economic imbalances so that gaps between income classes, race and region could be narrowed, in addition to ensuring benefits of state development are enjoyed by all.

The strategic cooperation of the Federal Government and the Pahang state government to generate stronger economic growth is also realized through the implementation of the East Coast Economic Region 2.0 (ECER) Master Plan 2018-2025.

The plan targets RM31 billion in private investment, which will create 52,550 jobs and generate about 23,090 local entrepreneurs, it said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Q2 GDP highest in 5 quarters, surprises market — Analysts

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP), which expanded 4.9 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) for the second quarter of 2019 (Q2 2019), is seen as a surprise to the market, as it not only beat most analysts’ expectations but was also the highest growth in five quarters.

In a note today, MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd Research (MIDF Research) said the strong pick-up in Q2 2019, which outdid the house’s forecast of 4.8 per cent earlier, was generally driven by continuous strong private consumption and recovery in commodity-based sectors.

“The growth was guided by stronger macro indicators such as domestic exports and the Industrial Production Index (IPI),” MIDF Research economist Muhammad Zafri Zulkeffeli told Bernama today.

Data from the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DoSM) showed domestic exports grew 7.5 per cent y-o-y to RM207.3 billion in Q2 2019 while the IPI rose 3.9 per cent y-o-y in the same period.

Given that with the Q2 2019 performance Malaysia bucked the regional trend to be the first Southeast Asian country that accelerated in growth versus the previous quarter, Muhammad Zafri agreed that the positive momentum would continue in the remaining quarters of the year.

“It is good to see Malaysia perform better than our neighbours, and we expect the momentum to continue until the end of the year,” he said.

According to MIDF’s research note, regionally, ASEAN economies were seen moderating in Q2 2019, with Indonesia’s GDP growing at a two-quarter low of 5.05 per cent y-o-y, Vietnam at 6.7 per cent y-o-y, the weakest since 2Q17, and the Philippines at 5.5 per cent y-o-y, the lowest since Q1 2015.

The Singaporean government, meanwhile, trimmed down its GDP forecast to 0.0-1.0 per cent as its Q2 2019 economic growth registered 0.1 per cent y-o-y, the slowest pace in a decade, said the note.

RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd economist Peck Boon Soon described the Q2 2019 performance as an upward surprise given the challenging global economic environment arising from the US-China trade tensions and amid a moderation in domestic retail sales.

However, he doubted that the upward momentum could be continued in the second half of the year, saying the country’s exports would still suffer due to worsening trade tension.

“Also, private consumption is unlikely to be sustained as consumers turn cautious, made worse by a high base effect last year boosted by the tax free holiday,” he said, adding that private investment is projected to be subdued moving forward, but public spending may pick up to provide some mitigation.

Meanwhile, managing partner at VM Markets Pte Ltd Singapore, Stephen Innes, said the Q2 2019 growth had enforced the government’s perspective on Malaysia’s economy that it is healthy, backed by robust personal consumption and private investment.

“It is hard to argue as the amount of construction projects that is ongoing in Kuala Lumpur hardly paints a picture of a struggling economy.

“But I am looking under the hood, and it is the old faithful palm oil and gas sector that is contributing the lion’s share on the export side,” he said.

Innes also did not discount that the other factor driving the consumption splurge in Q2 2019 could have been a one-off following the Hari Raya Aidilfitri festive holidays.

Despite the positive performance, Innes warned that markets however need to remain cautious as Malaysia’s exports were struggling alongside other neighbouring countries due to the escalating trade war between the US and China, the trade dispute between Japan and South Korea, and geopolitical stress in the European Union.

Echoing Innes’s views, Inter-Pacific Securities Sdn Bhd head of research Pong Teng Siew said investors are wary as they see Malaysia as a small market that can be easily influenced by external headwinds, especially concerns of a potential recession.

“Although the local economy is picking up, we must also take into account other sectors which are experiencing weaknesses in growth, such as the construction sector,” said Pong.

Statistics from DoSM showed that the value of construction work done in Q2 2019 expanded 0.8 per cent y-o-y to RM35.9 billion, but slightly lower than RM37.4 billion recorded in Q1 2019.

Moving forward, Muhammad Zafri said MIDF has maintained the house’s full-year GDP growth forecast at 4.9 per cent for 2019, the figure that it first published in December 2018.

“This is due to the steady domestic demand amid lower Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) effects, low inflationary pressure, stable job market and positive progression in the construction sector.

“In addition, the goods and services tax (GST) refund payments will be fully paid to individuals and businesses by Q3 2019,” he said.

However, Peck said RHB Research has slightly lowered its forecast to 4.5 per cent for 2019 from 4.6 per cent expected earlier.

“We will stick to our 4.5 per cent forecast given the downside risks on trade and investment as well as consumption,” he added.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Pintaras Jaya’s Singapore unit bags RM91 mln piling contract

KUALA LUMPUR, Piling and foundation specialist Pintaras Jaya Bhd’s (PJB) indirect wholly-owned unit, Pintary Foundations Pte Ltd, has secured an additional piling contract worth about RM91 million.

Pintary Foundations is 100 per cent-owned by PJB’s wholly-owned unit in Singapore, Pintary International Pte Ltd.

In a filing with Bursa Malaysia today, PJB said the additional piling contract would commence in October 2019 for a duration of nine months.

“This brings the total cumulative contracts newly secured to 10, collectively worth approximately RM247 million,” it said.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

Proton launches Proton X70 Merdeka Edition

KUALA LUMPUR, Proton has launched its limited production Proton X70 Merdeka Edition (ME) SUV, in conjunction with Malaysia’s 62nd independence day celebration.

Priced at RM126,100, only 62 units of the Proton X70 ME are available. The premium variant SUV comes in two different colours, namely Snow White and Flame Red.

Proton aims to sell the units during the Merdeka month, something the company is confident of doing judging by the current demand for the Proton X70, it said in a statement today.

Mechanically, the Proton X70 ME’s specifications are identical to the regular premium variant of the Proton X70, the only differences being the exterior styling package and some additional interior trim.

Door visors have also been added all-around, together with a rear bumper scuff plate and a customised Merdeka Edition emblem mounted on the tailgate, said Proton.

The SUV also comes equipped with a specially numbered Merdeka Edition emblem, making each vehicle unique, it added.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)

MATRADE urges local firms to continue involvement in export activities

KUALA LUMPUR, The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) has urged local entrepreneurs to continue to participate in export activities even though the current global trade situation is somewhat challenging following the trade war between the United States and China.

Chief executive officer Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa said export performance had managed to sustain Malaysia’s economy and directly provided a positive impact on the social development of the people.

The global geopolitical situation is something that is beyond our control, but Malaysian exporters can control their actions in addressing this situation.

Among the strategies that can be taken are to diversify their products or services and diversify their export markets he said in a statement today.

Wan Latiff said the small and medium enterprises could invest more in research and development as well as the latest technology in marketing and manufacturing such as Industry 4.0, blockchain, robotics and artificial intelligence.

MATRADE which has over 46 offices worldwide can assist local companies in finding new markets by giving market intelligence information as well as matching the Malaysian companies with high-quality buyers, he added.

Source: BERNAMA (News Agency)