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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Business leaders laud Apec economic recovery plan

 

Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz (centre) and ministry officials at the Apec Virtual Finance Ministers’ Meeting on Friday.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian business and trade leaders approve of the commitment from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) finance ministers to support multilateral coordination in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Munir Majid, chairman of the Asean Business Advisory Council Malaysia, told FMT he welcomed statements made at last week’s virtual Apec conference but said the relevant ministries would now have to make good on their promises.

At the conference, representatives of member nations stated their commitment to working towards establishing tax, trade and business policies that would allow the region to rebuild its economy.

Munir said any improvement in supply chain efficiency would greatly benefit the health, food and medical sectors since many supply chains had been disrupted because of reduced trade during the pandemic.

He also said travel agreements among Apec members would reap rewards for all.

“One quick win is to get international travel going again, whether for business or leisure,” he said.

“Manufacturing should benefit from supply or value chain reactivating, and the airline and hotel industries will benefit from getting international travel going again.”

Shaun Edward Cheah, executive director of the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry, agreed that a travel agreement was needed as the region “has an advantage with our short haul flights”.

“We should be pushing for an Apec open skies policy to rejuvenate our tourism and aviation industry.”

He said Apec needed to agree upon definitive multilateral agreements to reduce trade barriers and open up the economy further.

“With more open multilateral agreements, Malaysian businesses can access foreign markets and conversely attract foreign knowledge technology and financial investments.”

This, he said, would be able to “make our businesses, and more importantly our GLCs, more competitive”.

Michael Kang, president of the Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia, said allowing SMEs to trade more freely with regional counterparts would add value to their businesses.

“For SMEs, this is very positive in regard to recovering from the pandemic. The agreement will give them a lot of assistance from a tax perspective,” he said.

Kang said he believed in the importance of fostering regional relationships with industry players.

“We would like to see Apec continue to give opportunities for SMEs to work together so that we can work as equal partners with Apec members.” - FMT

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