KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia expects to boost exports by 3%-4% this year through a big push on new markets and products, and increased trade with Asean partners.
International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) secretary-general Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria said Malaysia plans to diversify exports with emphasis on Asean economies, which will unite under a common market under the Asean Economic Community in 2015.
Sta Maria said Malaysian exports to new markets in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa will be aggressively explored in addition to the traditional markets for Malaysian goods in China, India, Australia, the US, Japan and Korea.
“The ministry will be having a strategic meeting this week to set key performance indicators for all agencies under MITI, to be chaired by Minister Mustapa Mohamed.
“We are also planning to revisit some countries like in Latin America, Central America, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan to enhance relationships and up trade flows.”
Malaysia’s total trade for the first 10 months of 2013 had surpassed the trillion ringgit mark by touching RM1.13 trillion, a 3.4% increase from the RM1.09 trillion registered in the same period last year.
Exports during the period rose by 0.9% to a record RM591.83 billion while imports improved on a higher pace of 6.3% to RM540.38 billion.
On the industry front, Sta Maria said Miti will be narrowing its focus on the implementation of several key initiatives in three industries – steel, automotive and electrical and electronics.
The much awaited National Automotive Policy (NAP) which is touted to transform the Malaysian automotive industry, will enter into the first stage of implementation, after an announcement sometime this month.
“We have drawn the NAP in such a way where the major implementation begins soon after the announcement. In fact, some of the initiatives have already been executed,” she said.
The government will also establish a Malaysian Steel Institute to serve as a think-tank group and catalyst to the improvements and fine-tunes needed in the steel industry.
“We just concluded several process like appointing the CEO and setting up the office. The institute shows how important the steel industry is to the local economy.
“The institute is for the government to identify key issues within the industry, and later work with all stakeholders to rectify the issues,” she said.
Sta Maria said the government will focus more on the research and development activities and production of higher-end products for the electrical and electronics sector.
This means less attention will be paid to the manufacturing and assembly side of the industry.
“We are looking at the whole chain of the industry. Manufacturing and assembly activities have low value add to the economy.”
Other than the three industries, Sta Maria also said continuous focus will be given to high growth sectors such as small and medium enterprises and the halal industry.