KUALA LUMPUR: Concerns about Malaysia’s rising economic challenges must be openly accepted and should not be swept under the carpet, according to CIMB Asean Research Institute (CARI) chairman Tan Sri Munir Majid.
Speaking after a briefing by CARI yesterday, called “Leveraging Asean solutions for trade through ASSIST,” Munir urged Malaysians to be objective on matters related to the country’s macroeconomic conditions.
“In Malaysia, we all get scared to say negative things about our economy but we have to be objective about matters of fact and accept that certain things are happening that are a challenge to the economy,” he said.
Munir’s comments came after Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming asserted that Malaysia will not enter a recession this year, amid a slew of reduced growth forecasts by economists.
While he agrees with Ong, Munir pointed out that the domestic economy has seen “signs of slowdown”.
However, he was sanguine on the government’s aim to push for good governance, transparency and more open policy-making.
“These initiatives will be positive for the country’s economy moving forward,” he said.
During the briefing by CARI yesterday, businesses in the Asean region were urged to utilise the Asean Solutions for Investments, Services and Trade (ASSIST) mechanism to address intra-Asean trade problems such as unfair non-tariff measures.
The ASSIST mechanism can be used by Asean-based enterprises to lodge complaints or to interact with Asean governments in relation to intra-Asean cross-border trade issues. The initiative is supported by Asean regional Integration Support by the European Union Plus (ARISE Plus).
According to ARISE Plus trade facilitation key expert Paolo Vergano, businesses can lodge a complaint directly via the ASSIST online portal at zero cost.
Alternatively, a complaint can also be lodged indirectly via a representative entity such as trade organisations, chambers of commerce or Asean-registered law firms.
He said that Asean enterprises utilising ASSIST can expect solutions within 60 working days.
The trade expert calls for the private sector to fully leverage on the mechanism as he pointed out that only three complaints have been lodged since its launch in August 2016.
“Confidentiality and anonymity are guaranteed, when necessary, and ARISE Plus remains available to provide further capacity building and create greater awareness within the private sector, if need be.
“ASSIST may also be used to seek greater regulatory transparency and interpretative clarity such as rules of origin, customs regime and licensing,” he said. Currently, the ASSIST mechanism only covers trade in goods.
Beginning May 2019, the initiative will be rolled out for trade-in services.