KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has urged Malaysian companies to go out and seek new businesses and opportunities to ensure their businesses grow faster. He said, “Do not over rely on cheap foreign labour or sectors which are too traditional…go out and look for new opportunities in new businesses which will make your companies grow even faster.”
He also urged businesses in Malaysia to focus on innovation, efficiency, productivity and competitiveness to build an even more sustainable and inclusive economy. He also said that this will build an even more sustainable and inclusive economy so that Malaysia could maintain its edge in the region and beyond.
He said this when delivering his opening remarks at the ASEAN Business Awards Malaysia 2016 (ABAM 2016) here, Tuesday. The ABAM 2016, organised by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), is held annually to recognise national sector champions that have contributed to the national economy by expanding into the ASEAN region.
Najib, who presented the awards to 19 recipients of ABAM 2016, also encouraged local companies to grab the tremendous opportunities offered by the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) as ASEAN was already the seventh largest economy in the world and was forecast to be the fourth largest by 2050.
“The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make up over 97 per cent of businesses in Malaysia. Meanwhile, if they are nimble and quick, promising SMEs have great potential to achieve break out successes, especially now after the establishment of the AEC,” he said.
The AEC was established in 2015 and it is deemed as a major milestone in integrating a region with a combined gross domestic product of US$2.6 trillion and a population of 625 million. Meanwhile, Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the ASEAN Economic Integration could not be compared with the European Union or other regional groupings as there was no desire for ASEAN to be a political union or adopt a common currency.
“Over the last eight years, ASEAN has progressively reduced barriers to trade and it is virtually a duty-free market now. Investments in the services and manufacturing sectors have been substantially liberalised while mobility of skilled people and business visitors have been facilitated through mutual recognition arrangements,” he said.
Despite saying that barriers have been reduced, Mustapa said the governments in the regions however recognised that more jobs needed to be done, especially in reducing non-tariff barriers, deepening services liberalisation and enhancing the use of information and communications technology. He said this also include to transform ASEAN to be a digitalised economy, promoting e-commerce, stepping up financial services liberalisation and capital market integration.