Improving exports of merchandise

KUALA LUMPUR: The newly launched National Trade Blueprint (NTBp) by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob aims to position Malaysia as a dynamic and pre-eminent trading nation through sustainable export development.

This will support the realisation of the country’s export target of RM1.252 trillion in 2025 as set by the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

According to Ismail Sabri, the NTBp outlines a five-year (2021-2025) development strategy and initiatives to enhance Malaysia’s trade competitiveness, specifically in the exports of merchandise.

“The blueprint will elevate the nation’s trade competitiveness and strengthen its position as a leading export country.


“It reflects the government’s clear ambitions to further develop Malaysia’s position and competitiveness in international trade.

“More importantly, this blueprint is set to supplement the policies outlined in the 12MP towards meeting its targets with clear, actionable, and focused recommendations,” said Ismail Sabri in his speech during the online launch of the NTBp yesterday.

The blueprint will also affect the people in a positive manner, he said adding that besides advocating an economic agenda that is aligned with the nation’s social landscape, the blueprint’s key thrusts and recommendations strive towards inclusivity, fair distribution of wealth, narrowing of inequality gaps, elevating livelihood of Malaysians, as well as providing positive impacts for the nation through higher income generation.

The NTBp was developed by Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) under the purview of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti) to increase Malaysia’s trade through an improved business ecosystem.

The blueprint’s framework is guided by four strategic priorities, three strategic themes and eight strategic thrusts with 40 recommendations to improve and enhance Malaysia’s trade competitiveness.

Among the specific areas under the ecosystem covered by the NTBp are trade facilitation and logistics, standards and conformance, trade promotion and market access, sustainability and innovation, digitalisation and technology as well as investment and branding.

The four strategic priorities include increasing exporting companies by uplifting the capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and encouraging them to be part of global value chains, and also increasing high value exports by looking into ways of exporting more high value export goods and, improving Malaysia’s current offerings, as well as diversifying export products by moving into other non-commodity export products, specifically high value niche products, through intensive promotional activities.

The fourth strategic priority is to improve the export ecosystem by ensuring that export activities can be carried out efficiently – this includes removing red tapes and barriers faced by exporters, as well as forging stronger partnerships between all stakeholders within the ecosystem.

Each strategic thrust will pursue a set of key strategies according to the specific areas to fulfill its strategic aim.

A number of action plans are identified that will facilitate and enhance trade competitiveness throughout the business ecosystem.

The development of the blueprint took one year to complete and involved participation from both public and private sectors.

To implement and monitor the recommendations, eight working groups (WGs) have been formed according to their specific areas within the ecosystem.

For efficiency, these WGs shall report to the existing Export Co-ordination Committees chaired by the Chief Secretary to the government.

Meanwhile, Matrade said in a statement that the need for the NTBp was driven by various export concerns, including the country slipping from 18th in 2004 to 24th in 2020, in the global export ranking.

“From a regional perspective, the decline in global export ranking saw Thailand and Vietnam overtaking Malaysia.

“Although Malaysia’s export is growing, it is not as fast as other countries,” said Matrade.

Another concern was the lack of efficiency amongst ecosystem players and its governance, with fragmented focus in export-related efforts, which has hindered the efficiency of Malaysia’s export ecosystem.

Matrade noted that as for the Global Competitiveness Index, Malaysia has also dropped from 22nd in 2018 to 25th in 2021, mainly due to weaker performance in the aspects of skills, finance and business dynamism.

“Capitalising on trends that are shaping the global market landscape is crucial for Malaysia to stay relevant. It is therefore important for us to have the necessary information to stay ahead in exports,” Matrade pointed out.

Meanwhile, SMEs contribution to exports has been low (8.5% in 2020 in terms of goods) and the high dependence on foreign direct investment to drive exports, recorded at 74.1% in 2019, could also lead to exports’ vulnerability.

Matrade pointed out that the country’s exports require a clear, targeted and impactful action plans that tackle immediate priorities, while building upon Malaysia’s existing strengths and opportunities.

There is also a need to strengthen the foundation of the export ecosystem and improves its efficiency though proactive collaborations, and builds capacity by pursuing innovation and gains flexibility and resilience through diversification and market access.

The NTBp is applicable to all sectors and industries in merchandise, addressing various concerns throughout the export ecosystem in a holistic manner.

Miti senior minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said, “It is heartening to note the synergies between the public and private sectors in pooling their resources to formulate this valuable document as we continue working to propel the nation’s economy.”

Azmin added that despite the adverse impact caused by the Covid-19 pandemic last year, Malaysia’s trade for the first eight months of this year grew by 22.9% to RM1.407 trillion, compared to the same period in 2020.

Exports increased by 24.9% to RM778.49bil and imports rose by 20.4% to RM628.29bil. Trade surplus surged by 48.2% to RM150.2bil.

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