GERMAN Economic and Labour Minister Wolfgang Clement has called for greater co-operation between German and Malaysian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
He said there were excellent opportunities for co-operation between small and medium-sized enterprises of the 2 countries due to their economic and political homogeneity as well as the increasing number of German medium-sized companies in Malaysia.
I know that I am addressing the right audience here with my appeal to intensify cooperation between German and Malaysian SMEs because the situation here is not very much different from our own, he said in his keynote address at a business luncheon organised by the Malaysian-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MGCCI) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Wolfgang, who is on an official visit to Malaysia with German Federal Chancellor Gerard Schroder, said that like the German-based SMEs, touted as the German future economic powerhouse, he was personally convinced that Malaysian SMEs would play a central role in the implementation of the countrys modernisation strategy.
I have noted with interest Bank Negaras statements about the promotion of SMEs in its annual report 2002. This is very much in line with our own thinking. We have a saying in our country that Mittelstand (SMEs) are the backbone of the German economy, he said.
German SMEs could contribute to strengthening the international competitiveness of the Malaysian economy as well as increasing innovative potential, he said. However, to attract SME investors, favourable conditions must be offered and any impression that the SMEs are given different treatment from larger companies should be avoided, he said.
He advised German companies in Malaysia to have a contact person or a contact point, whose special task is to advise and assist SMEs investors.
Wolfgang, who also witnessed the signing of MoU between MGCCI and the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Malaysia, had called on the chambers of commerce to take the lead in forging the cooperation. To address the business issues of Mittelstand in Germany, including claims that the SMEs were not getting enough Government support in the Asia-Pacific region, Wolfgang said the German government had decided to launch a small business initiative called Pro Mittelstand. It aims at forging closer linkages between industry and research and the objective is to implement innovations with shorter delays in a more practice-oriented way.
The federal government will submit an action plan, by summer of this year, in which the strategic challenges will be identified and practical measures will be proposed.
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