Minister says move will help cushion Malaysia’s falling trade surplus
KUALA LUMPUR: A key measure to help cushion Malaysia’s shrinking trade surplus is by strengthening Asean, said International Trade and Industry Minister Darell Leiking.
Noting that Malaysia’s trade surplus in August had slumped to its lowest in nearly four years, Leiking said strengthening Asean was a priority.
“I see the answer in Asean.
“However, we have to look for a common denominator.
“This is also the reason our prime minister suggested a new car.
“Once we find a product that brings us together, we can become a stronger economy together,” he said.
He added that the government wanted the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to be put in place as soon as possible, as it could also act as a cushion against declining exports.
He said they hoped to see a substantial agreement for the RCEP being reached over the next few months.
Malaysia’s trade surplus contracted to RM1.61bil in August, down 83.7% year-on-year and 80.7% month-on-month – the smallest since November 2014.
Speaking during a panel session at the Malaysia: A New Dawn investor’s conference yesterday, Leiking said shrinking exports were not a problem only in Malaysia, as other countries in the region and globally were also experiencing the same.
On another matter, Leiking said he has proposed having a single agency to decide on investments and perks for investors, and would bring this up to the Cabinet soon.
He said the current situation, whereby there are various investment promotion agencies operating under several ministries, was unhealthy.
He said this was because the agencies would be competing against one another, and investors would end up bargaining in order to get the best deal.
“It would be good for Malaysia if we had a singular place to decide on incentives and perks sought by investors. If we have many agencies deciding and competing with other agencies, it is not healthy, as investors would end up bargaining,” he said in response to a question during the session.
On the reviewing of incentives given to investors in Malaysia, due to the country’s financial constraints, Leikeng said the incentives must be fair and present a win-win situation.
“We must spend on incentives as it allows for job creation, and ultimately creates more taxpayers. We have to look at the long-term returns as well,” he said.