Measured approach in handling current climate

KUALA LUMPUR: The American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) member companies are urging the government to take a firm and balanced approach in managing the Covid-19 pandemic by redeploying the May 2020 standard operating procedures (SOPs) that allowed businesses to operate at full capacity.

In a statement yesterday, the association said manufacturing and support services should be allowed to operate at maximum capacity given the reintroduction of tighter SOPs and incorporation of automation as well as the experiences learned in the last ten months of 2020.

“In keeping with global practices, industries such as the Electrical and Electronics (E&E) including Semiconductor and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sectors must be gazetted as essential sectors along with the others originally identified, ” Amcham said.

It also added that the ecosystems including, but not limited to packaging, transportation and logistics should also be allowed to operate given the critical role played by Malaysia’s SMEs in global value chains.

“Amcham urges the government to take a strong but measured approach in addressing the rising profile of Covid-19 in the country, to showcase its ability in balancing the economy and safety of its people, ” noted the association.

Given the current situation of the pandemic, Amcham also suggests the government to use a targeted approach to restrictions which would curb the pandemic without crippling the economy.

“This will allow for business continuity and safety to work hand-in hand, avoiding the potential devastating effects on local industries, and causing irreparable damage to operations and job sustainability, ” it said.

Should the government announce measures to address the rising cases, Amcham said the government should communicate the measures with clarity and consistency which would enable compliance and ensure smooth implementation.

“Compliance is of utmost importance to American companies. Consistency in interpretation and enforcement is paramount at all levels, including coordination between federal and state governments, ” it added.

For 2020, Malaysia’s total exports stood at RM808bil, of which American companies alone accounted for around RM100bil, according to the Economic Outlook 2021 issued by the Ministry of Finance.

“This is a substantial portion of Malaysia’s overall trade that will be threatened by another lockdown.

“The implications of Malaysia’s reliability within the global value chain will also hang in the balance as overly drastic measures will negatively impact future investment sentiment, ” Amcham said.

Separately, EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Eurocham Malaysia) chief executive officer Sven Schneider believes a second full lockdown could cause a collapse to the country’s economy as many more businesses would shut down.

“Eurocham Malaysia is not in favour of a restrictive full lockdown, which will likely not balance the needs of Malaysia’s recovering economy.

“The most affected states by Covid-19 are also the commercial and industrial hubs of the nation, which will multiply the impact of any strict lockdown to be implemented, ” he said in a statement.

During the previous full lockdown in March last year, Sven pointed out that businesses suffered substantial financial losses, logistics challenges, supply chain interruptions and retrenchments.

On a positive note, he believes a targeted Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) with enhanced SOPs focusing on stricter measures on travel and social activities would be ideal.

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