FMM disappointed export sector not given prominence in stimulus package

The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers says exports to China have been affected by the Covid-19 epidemic because of the lockdown in many cities there. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) has expressed disappointment that the export sector has not been given prominence in the RM20 billion stimulus package unveiled by interim Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.

While welcoming the initiatives outlined in the package to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on the most vulnerable sectors, including tourism and manufacturing, FMM said it had hoped that there would also be measures to boost exports.

In a statement today, FMM president Soh Thian Lai said based on feedback from his members, manufacturers were concerned over the slowdown in production because of low supply of raw materials from China, where several cities had been in lockdown.

These materials, he said, included moulded and metal press parts, iron and steel products, ingredients for food and beverage production, parts and components for machinery, and paper and packaging material.

“Imports of these raw materials from China are affected as certain cities are currently under lockdown and production has been stopped.

“Similarly, exports to China are affected as most of the customers and importers are still closed due to the Chinese government’s directive.

“Exports affected include machinery and equipment, automotive components, electrical and electronic products, toiletries, steel products and processed food products,” he said.

Soh said it was critical to execute the implementation of the initiatives effectively so that affected businesses can recover quickly.

“Hence, we look forward to further details of the measures introduced as soon as possible,” he said.

He welcomed the revised GDP growth forecast of 3.2% to 4.2% for 2020.

“We note the revision of the forecast growth to 3.2% to 4.2% from the 4.8% announced in Budget 2020, which is expected given the global economic challenges brought about by this global health epidemic.

“We are, however, hopeful that Malaysia can pull itself out of these challenging times with the collective effort of the government through implementation of these initiatives and with the private sector working hand in hand in generating greater economic activities to boost the economy.”

Soh also said FMM was happy its recommendations to boost domestic consumption had been taken heed of, particularly with the 4% reduction in employees’ contribution to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), introduction of the digital domestic travel vouchers, and 15% discount in electricity bills to hotels and shopping malls to stimulate the tourism industry.

He said greater emphasis should be placed on the “Love Malaysia, Buy Made-in-Malaysia Products” drive, to ensure robust and sustained domestic market demand for local items and to promote import substitution which will strengthen the domestic manufacturing industry.

“We believe that collectively, these efforts will in turn enhance efforts to build the Malaysian brand integrity in export markets,” he said.