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Step up competitive edge to cope with liberalisation challenges, says Muhyiddin

Bernama, Malaysia

Step Up Competitive Edge To Cope With Liberalisation Challenges, Says Muhyiddin

6 August 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 6 (Bernama) — Local companies must step up their competitive edge to compete with products of foreign companies that will enter the Malaysian market in the goods and services sector under the liberalisation process of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and Asean Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS).

International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said though local companies would face stiff competition from products of foreign countries, they would also reap huge benefits from the liberalisation process.

"In the goods sector, export barriers and tariffs have either been reduced or abolished through free trade agreements for Malaysian products to enter the countries.

"Customs regulations and entry procedures for businessmen to enter the countries have also been simplified," he said at the launch of the third edition of Malaysia 1,000 and award presentation of top corporate performers.

The first edition was launched in 2003 and second in 2005.

It was published by Basis Publications Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the Malaysian National News Agency (Bernama).

Muhyiddin said local companies should seize the opportunities arising from the liberalisation process and make adequate preparations to face the impact of the liberalisation.

He said the ministry had launched an outreach programme for trade and industry associations, exporters and related sub-sectors to explain the opportunities available from the implementation of the Generalised System of Preferences, Common Effective Preferential Tariff, FTAs and AFAS and the preparations they should make to cope with more stiffer competition.

So far, nine outreach programme sessions had been held and more such sessions would be held by year-end, he said.

Muhyiddin said local companies are also encouraged to explore new and bigger markets, grab the opportunity to invest in new markets, acquire new technology and diversify activities into new industries and non-traditional markets.

Potential and viable foreign markets identified for local companies are Middle East countries and rapidly-growing developing countries like Vietnam, China and India.

"For the purpose, the government through my ministry has provided various incentives for local companies to explore export markets such as the Services Export Fund, Market Development Grant, Brand Promotion Grant and Trade Promotion Services for local companies to explore into the export market.

Trade Export Services provides assistance in the form of repayment grants to local service provider companies involved in activities to venture into export markets such as bidding for tenders or negotiations for international projects, conducting feasibility studies for the global market and export promotions.

Till July 1, 319 applications were approved, with RM19.77 million in total grant.

Market Development Grant was set up to help small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to conduct promotions for export market development.

Under the scheme, SMEs can get a 50 per cent refund of the equalisation grant of the overall participation cost in international trade expos, trade and investment missions and international trade conventions.

Till July 9, a total of 2,357 companies enjoyed incentives under the scheme, with RM70.4 million in total grant value.

The Brand Promotions Grant is to develop and promote Malaysian brands at international level.

Under this scheme, Malaysian companies, including SMEs, can apply up to RM2 million in the form of repayment grant.

As of July 1, 64 companies have been given incentives under this scheme, with a total grant value of RM108.02 million.