FOREIGN trade associations have raised a host of issues, mainly bureaucratic, as obstacles to doing better trade in Malaysia.
Security, however, is a growing issue with the Taiwanese.
In its annual dialogue with the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti), the Taipei Investors' Association in Malaysia (TIAM) claimed that the mushrooming of Taiwanese plants in Malaysia's major industrial zones, coupled with the fact that they were foreign nationals, had turned them into targets of the lawless elements in the country.
It said its members frequently complained about the progressive deterioration of law and order in their immediate environment, noting that the harassment against them normally assumed the form of extortion, threats, robbery, cheating and pilferage.
TIAM suggested that the government should take positive steps to address the security issues so as to improve the investment environment.
It also voiced the frustrations of one of its members, Ta Win Industries (M) Sdn Bhd, which it said purchased a new machine 6 months ago to fulfil the demand for new orders to make enamelled wire. Ta Win was unable to operate the new machine, however, owing to the delay by Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) in upgrading the company's current volume supply.
It said that when queried on the delay, TNB had blamed the staff shortage in its department.
Other complaints were on the lack of clarity in business rules and regulations, as well as the long processing times taken by government departments. The issue of work permits, was also a point of frustration for many.
The Italian Trade Commission suggested simplifying the process for obtaining work permits, citing its own difficulties in obtaining the permits for foreigners, due to unfriendly, bureaucratic procedures.
The Malaysian-French Chamber of Com- merce and Industry brought up feet dragging at payment time by its customers, which it said also included government bodies.
The chamber said customers were not afraid to delay payment for up to a year or even more, and that taking legal action against them was a long process that usually yielded no result. It called on government and semi-government bodies to respect contract terms and suggested that there be more legislative support in legal cases.
A number of the issues mooted by the British Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (BMCC) were related to the petrochemical industry and the east coast ports of Kertih and Kuantan.
It proposed that the government do a review with the port authorities to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of the ports. Due to the increasing traffic congestion on the single-lane highway between both the ports, it suggested a dual motorway be built between Kertih and Kuantan.
BMCC said that the fire and Hazmat teams in Malaysia were inadequately trained and equipped to tackle major petrochemical fires and spills. It added that the standard and response capabilities of these units should be upgraded in line with the growing importance of the petrochemical sector in the country.