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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Arab Countries Seriously Looking At Investing In Malaysia

29 Rabiulawal 1433

By Dalila Abu Bakar(Bernama)

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 21, 2012- Arab countries are contemplating moving their funds to safer economies like Malaysia following the economic crisis in Europe and the United States, said Mohammed Al-Rabea, Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Economic Unity, The Arab League.

"The economic crisis in Europe and the United States has affected the revenue of Arab countries. We are looking seriously to redirect these funds into safe economies like Malaysia," he told Bernama in an interview here.

The Council of Arab Economic Unity is in Malaysia for the Malaysia Global Business Forum-Strategic Partners-Malaysia and The Arab World held at MATRADE Tuesday.

The delegation had a meeting with Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir during the forum.

Mohammed Al-Rabae said they had exchanged views on potential businesses for Malaysia and the Arab countries.

"We have exchanged views and discussed with the Arab-Malaysian Business Council and Arab-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce to develop businesses and create joint ventures and closer ties.

"I have also extended invitation to Datuk Mukhriz to visit Cairo," he said, adding that Malaysia has yet to further its business relations with all members of the Arab League.

Mohammed Al-Rabae also said the delegation was impressed with the development of health tourism in Malaysia and would implement a similar model back home.

The Council of Arab Economic Unity will visit KPJ Healthcare, Malaysia's leading healthcare provider, tomorrow to discuss potential partnerships in the area of healthcare.

Meanwhile, Arab-Malaysian Chamber of Commerce President Mohamad Radwan Alamis said he was confident that total trade between Malaysia and Arab countries would exceed US$30 billion in 2015 from US$17.6 billion over the last 10 years.

"The US$30 billion is not far to achieve. We expect much more.

"There are huge opportunities. There are huge investment opportunities for Malaysian businessmen in the Arab countries, particularly in the construction and infrastructure sectors," he said.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Investors Can Ride Out Market Volatility With Right Strategies

28 Rabiulawal 1433

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 , 2012 - With the right investment strategies, prudent portfolio risk management and a positive attitude, investors can ride out times of market volatility to optimise returns, says Pacific Mutual Fund Bhd Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Gary Gan.

"There has been heavy portfolio reallocation activities over the past year for equities investing, with more investors opting for regular investing style over a diversified range of fund categories.

"Investors who stay resilient and stay in the hunt for profit-making activities have better tolerance to short-term volatile market behaviour and are in a good position to reap better longer-term investment results," he added.

Pacific Mutual on Monday received the award for the Best Equity Group Category Award and three other equity fund awards at The Edge-Lipper Malaysia Fund Awards 2012.

The Best Equity Group Award is for the third-consecutive year.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Malaysia's Transformation Programme Offers Huge Opportunities For UK Firms

26 Rabiulawal 1433

By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah(Bernama)

SINGAPORE, Feb 17, 2012 - Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's Economic Transformation Programme offers huge opportunities for UK firms to share their expertise and work with Malaysia on important commercial projects, including the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit.

In stating this, UK Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint, said combined with Malaysia's continued strong economic growth, "we see major opportunities across a wide range of sectors -- education, oil and gas, infrastructure, healthcare, information, communications technology, retail, financial and professional services and defence and security."

He said the UK has strong trade and investment ties with Malaysia which it was determined to further strengthen.

"My visit to Malaysia is an excellent opportunity to meet government and business leaders to achieve this objective," he told Bernama.

Lord Green was here from Feb 14-15, 2012 to promote UK trade and investment and aerospace at the Singapore Airshow and to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the fall of Singapore before visiting Malaysia yesterday, as part of his tour of the region which also Thailand.

He said many UK firms had presence in Malaysia, including well-known brands such as Dyson, Tesco and Shell.

On the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean), he said the region's growing importance to UK business was reflected in his ministry's new five-year strategy, "Britain Open for Business".

"I will be visiting three of the five Asean countries identified as priority high growth and emerging markets (Singapore, Malaysian and Thailand)," he said.

Lord Green said the European Union was currently negotiating free trade agreements with Singapore and Malaysia.

"We look forward to the successful conclusion of these talks which will unlock many new opportunities for both UK and Asean businesses," he said.

He was positive about growth prospects in Asean and Malaysia in particular.

"There is no doubt the region is becoming an increasingly important player in the global economy.

"Robust domestic demand and improving macroeconomic fundamentals will also continue to support economic growth.

"Malaysia is UK's second largest export market in South-East Asia and we want to build on this," he said.

Lord Green said there were signs that the UK's economic outlook was improving.

"This year, the International Monetary Fund forecasts the UK to grow twice as fast as Germany and three times as fast as France," he said.


Saturday, February 18, 2012

Global Shares Likely To Remain Up, Says Economist

26 Rabiulawal 1433

By Tengku Noor Shamsiah Tengku Abdullah(Bernama)

SINGAPORE, Feb 18 , 2012 - Global shares are vulnerable to further consolidation or correction in the short term given high levels of investor sentiment, strong year-to-date gains and Greek worries.

However, any pullback globally is likely to be mild and the broader trend is likely to remain up, says Dr Shane Oliver, Head of Investment Strategy and Chief Economist of AMP Capital Investors.

"Valuations are attractive particularly against very low bond yields, the risk of a eurozone meltdown has receded, momentum in global economic indicators is positive, global monetary conditions are getting easier and easier and there is lots of cash on the sidelines," he told Bernama.

He said the "yes we have a deal no we don't" regarding Greece's latest bailout negotiations raged on again over the last week, resulting in a volatile ride for risk assets like shares.

"Our assessment is that a deal is more likely than not as both sides have potentially too much to lose, but the risks are high and in any case it could drag on a bit," he said.

In a broader sense, Oliver said there was mostly good news regarding the European debt issue over the last week.

Most importantly, bond yields in Spain, Italy, France and Portugal were little affected by the Greek related uncertainty of the last week, suggesting investors are becoming less concerned about contagion.

He said global reflation remains an ongoing theme with the Bank of Japan announcing extra quantitative easing, a short-term inflation target of one per cent and a medium-term target of two per cent.

"This is very significant. If Japan is serious about meeting its inflation targets it means more monetary easing in order to break the psychology of deflation and it could mean a fundamental turn in the Yen (down) and the relative performance of Japanese shares (up)," he said.

Oliver said data releases over the last week were mostly positive with strong US data, a weaker than expected growth contraction in the eurozone and a contraction in the Japanese economy, but signs of growth bouncing back this quarter.

He said even Australian economic data surprised on the upside, but with monetary conditions tightening on the back of rising bank mortgage rates, the strong Australian dollar, and the drumbeat of job layoffs seemingly getting louder, it is hard to see recent stronger data releases being sustained.

"We still think there is a strong case to cut official interest rates further but the strong January jobs data and the Reserve Bank of Australia's relatively relaxed stance suggest the next cut may be several months away," he said.

Oliver said the focus in the week ahead will likely stay on Greece with finance ministers to consider the bailout package on Monday. European PMI business conditions indicators (Tuesday) and the German IFO index (Thursday) will also be watched closely.

 Source- BERNAMA

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Government Confident Economy Expands Over 5 Per Cent

20 Rabiulawal 1433

IPOH, Feb 12 , 2012- The government is confident that the country's economy will grow more than five percent this year as targeted, Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said.

He said the effectivesness and success of the Government Transformation Plan (GTP) and the Economic Transformation Plan (ETP) would surely help expand the Malaysian economy.

"Basically, we are confident that the country's economic expansion is on the right track and the expansion also may exced the five percent target," he told reporters when meeting villagers at Kampung Tengku Hussien Hujung here.

He said the success of the GTP and ETP and its role in the country's economic expansion had been discussed during a workshop chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and attended by Cabinet ministers on Thursday.

"The workshop was also attended by an international panel comprising economic experts appointed by the government to check and balance the plans implemented," he said.

Ahmad Husni said Malaysia was the only country that had in place various action plans to overcome economic crises.

He said all plans that were drawn up based on the Key Performance Index also contributed to the country's economic expansion because through it, performance could be assessed based on facts.


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Malaysia's Palm Oil Exports Hit RM80 Billion In 2011

17 Rabiulawal 1433

TEMERLOH, Feb 9, 2012- Palm oil is Malaysia's biggest commodity exports, registering RM80 billion last year.

In second place was rubber with RM20 billion, Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Hamzah Zainudin told reporters at Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Jengka campus near here today.

He said the country's total commodity exports were RM130 billion last year.

Other commodities exported included cocoa and kenaf, he added.

"We expect the value to continue to increase this year on the back of rising demand," he said.

He also said efforts to promote Malaysian commodity products would continue in both new and traditional markets such as Japan, China, United Sattes, West Asia and Europe.

Meanwhile, Hamzah said his ministry was encouraging cocoa cultivation due to high demand for the commodity in the world market.

"The ministry organised the People's Cocoa Programme last year to encourage people to use idle land near their houses for cocoa cultivation.

"The ministry will provide quality cocoa seeds hoping that cocoa output will increase in the next few years," he said.

There was big potential in the cocoa industry and it could bring lucrative returns, he said.

"In the 1990s, Malaysia was among the world's major cocoa producers. Cocoa cultivation area in the 1990s was 420,300ha compared to only about 20,000ha now," he said.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Malaysia Invited To Diversify Its Investment In Turkmenistan

14 Rabiulawal 1433

By Joshua Foong (Bernama)

LONDON, Feb 7 , 2012- Malaysian firms should capitalise on the vast business opportunities in Turkmenistan as the Central Asian nation seeks to intensify contacts in a broad spectrum of economic partnership.

This invitation was expressed by the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, to Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman at a meeting on Feb 1.

Anifah, who was met by Malaysian press in London yesterday, said among key areas that was raised at the meeting was the increase of Malaysian involvement in industrial, transport and communications as well as high technology and tourism sectors, especially in the context of Turkmenistan's ongoing infrastructural projects and large-scale reform initiatives.

"President Berdimuhammadov, who together with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, took the relationship of both countries to a higher level in the past year, has indicated to me that his government will be very friendly to any possible Malaysian involvements and investments in the Turkmen economy," he said.

The Turkmen market, which is rapidly developing, and the favourable investment climate in the country, provide a conducive platform for the establishment of long-term cooperation with Malaysian business circles.

"My trip to Turkmenistan was also to assist Petronas in trying to secure other further business opportunities and to request for speedy government approval to facilitate of some of the work that they plan to do there," he added.

Petronas Carigali, the exploration and production arm of Petronas, began operating in the Turkmen sector of Caspian Sea since 1996.

Ten years later, in May 2006, the national oil corporation began to diversify in more downstream activities, such as industrial production and oil export.

Moving forward, on top of wider economic links, Berdimuhammadov had also expressed hopes that both Malaysia and Turkmenistan will be able to enhance bilateral humanitarian contacts, including in areas of education, professional training, science and culture.

Anifah also said that his ministry has already identified a candidate to be appointed as Malaysia's first ambassador to Turkmenistan, with a Malaysian Embassy to be opened in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat in the coming months.

Turkmenistan is also in the process of establishing an embassy in Kuala Lumpur.


Saturday, February 4, 2012

ETP, GTP Boost Malaysia Financial Competitiveness

12 Rabiulawal 1433

IPOH, Feb 4 , 2012  The implementation of the Economic Transformation Plan and Government Transformation Plan has boosted the competitiveness of the national finances.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said, this was based on the Global Competitiveness Report 2011/2012 which was tabled at the six-day World Economic Forum in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, beginning Jan 24.

"The report was completed in September last year and tabled during the meeting. Our country was included in terms of competitiveness because our financial level rose much higher than that of South Korea.

 "We are currently placed at No. 21, while South Korea is No. 24. Prior to this, our country was No. 26," he told reporters . He said the evaluation covered numerous angles, including the micro economic environment which is the basis for an increase in domestic investments and foreign direct investments.

Apart from that, he said, the evaluation was also based on the infrastructural development, health and education.

 Source- BERNAMA

Sugar Subsidy Up Because Of Higher World Prices

12 Rabiulawal 1433

 KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3, 2012- The sugar subsidy for this year to 2014 has increased because the higher world prices compared with the price signed under the long-term contract (LTC) from 2009 to 2011.

Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, said sugar price has increased by US$0.26 per lb compared with US$0.175 per lb in 2009-2011.

"As a result, the subsidy borne by the government from 2009-2011 is still based on US$0.175 per lb under the LTC," he said after launching the Menu Rakyat 1Malaysia at Bank Rakyat's cafetaria here.

He said for the next three years, the subsidy would increase based on the new LTC price of US$0.26 which the government signed in January.

Ismail Sabri refuted accusations by certain parties that the government has increased the sugar subsidy despite the fall in world raw sugar prices.

He said the price was still high at US$0.175 a lb.

The higher subsidy this year was not related to the fall in raw sugar prices eight months ago, he said.

Ismail Sabri said Malaysia imported almost 100 per cent of its sugar from Australia, Brazil and Thailand via Felda's subsidiary, MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd, and Tradewinds.


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Selling Lotus a Viable Option: Tun Mahathir

10 Rabiulawal 1433

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia’s former prime minister, comments on Proton Holdings Bhd after billionaire Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary’s DRB-Hicom Holdings Bhd agreed to buy a controlling stake from the government.

Mahathir, who helped found Proton and remains an advisor, also comments on whether DRB should sell Proton’s U.K. sports- car arm Group Lotus International Ltd. The former premier made these comments in an interview in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

On selling Lotus:

“It is a viable option and I think the new owners of Proton might consider that. But, Lotus is not just a sports-car company. It is an engineering and technology company. It’s selling engineering skills to China and helping people going into the industry.”

Whether Proton’s new controlling shareholder DRB-Hicom can make a difference:

“The man behind DRB-Hicom is a successful entrepreneur. He owns ports and businesses and took over DRB-Hicom from previous owner and has turned it around.

“DRB-Hicom was a great failure before. It lost a lot of money before he took it over and has turned it around. It’s a profitable company and many foreign automotive companies go to this company and want them to be partners. They assemble Mercedes-Benz cars, Volkswagens and Suzukis. They are financially strong. I am confident.

“Of course, they have a lot of borrowings. Nobody is rich with their own money. They are rich with money that they borrow.”

On whether Proton still needs a global strategic partner:

“If you go to Italy, small companies can design and build car, so you don’t need big companies to be with you. You can go direct to the very companies which the big companies use.

“We see big companies are more keen on swallowing us up. We feel we want to be independent. Therefore, we go to the small companies and we can now build and design cars of modern design by working through these small companies.”

On what’s needed to turnaround Proton’s fortunes:

“I think a good management. There is nothing wrong with Proton, but bad management has caused it to come down.

“There were times Proton was doing so well. It made so much money it managed to build huge facilities, including a big manufacturing center costing 1 billion ringgit. These were internally generated funds and not by borrowing from the banks or asking the government for money. It’s not usual for any car companies to be able to generate funds internally for expansion. So it’s not a failure.

“Today, it seems to be in a bad way. Of course, there were things done which should not have been done. For example, they allowed for the import of foreign cars, but these people under- declare and do all kinds of funny things. As a result, these foreign cars push out Proton from the market. So, we understand the problem. We have a chance to recover.”

Proton’s challenges:

“One time, we had a reserve of RM4 billion, which would able to finance the growth of the future. Unfortunately, due to things done by the wrong management we have lost the cash.

“In the automotive business you need a lot of money. Each model, just for the platform requires half a billion ringgit. We need that money. I hope the new investors will provide the money.”

On whether Malaysia really needs a national car:

“By itself, a national car is not a need. We could buy cheaper cars by importing them. An automotive industry generates a lot of engineering skills and it can give us a lot of the other businesses.

“Now we can manufacture components and produce a lot of other things. People who look at Proton may think of it as a failure, but we think it has helped Malaysia take many steps in the field of engineering.”

Source- Bloomberg & Business Times

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bank Negara Maintains OPR At 3 Per Cent

8 Rabiulawal 1433

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31, 1433 - Bank Negara Malaysia has maintained the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at three per cent.

The central bank said in the recent months, global economic and financial conditions had deteriorated following the escalation of the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, the ongoing fiscal consolidation and the significant policy uncertainties.

"The heightened market volatility, impaired financial intermediation and weak labour market conditions continue to weigh down on growth in the advanced economies.

"These conditions pose downside risks to global growth.

"In Asia, while growth continues to be supported by sustained domestic demand, the growth momentum has moderated amid the weaker external environment, it said in a statement after Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting Tuesday.

In the domestic economy, it said, the latest indicators pointed towards continued expansion in the fourth quarter of 2011.

The central bank said growth was driven by sustained domestic consumption and investment activities, while the external sector showed signs of moderation.

"Looking ahead, the economy is expected to continue to expand, underpinned by sustained private sector economic activity and further reinforced by public sector spending," it said.

Meanwhile, Bank Negara said employment conditions were expected to remain stable while the outlook for domestic-oriented sectors will continue to be favourable.

"Overall growth prospects, however, will be affected by the slowdown in external demand, resulting in slower growth in exports and industrial production," it said.

It said domestic headline inflation averaged 3.2 per cent in 2011.

Going into 2012, cost-push inflation will moderate as slowing global economic activity will alleviate the pressure on the prices of key commodities, it said.

"The impact of domestic demand factors on inflation is expected to be contained, in line with stable domestic demand conditions.

"Headline inflation, therefore, is expected to moderate in 2012.

"Nevertheless, risks to inflation could emerge arising from supply disruptions that would result in higher food and commodity prices," it said.

The central bank said in the MPC's assessment, the global environment will become more challenging going forward.

"As Malaysia's economic growth and inflation prospects will be affected by these external developments, the MPC will continue to assess carefully the risks to domestic growth and inflation," it said.