KUALA LUMPUR, March 18 — The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) has urged businesses to embrace change and reform while intensifying cooperation with regional partners to seize vast opportunities provided by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
Deputy MITI Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong said technologies and digitalisation are the driving force to this transformative change to be able to compete efficiently globally.
“While the government is committed to providing a conducive ecosystem to nurture the growth of local businesses through policies, programmes and continued support to facilitate companies in venturing into new industries and markets, it is the businesses which must act fast, embrace changes and seize opportunities,” he said during the ‘China-Asean in RCEP Implementation: Are Businesses Ready for RCEP’ seminar today.
For Malaysia, the RCEP agreement has come into force today, paving the way for the country to integrate into the world’s largest free trade agreement that involves 15 countries, with a total population of more than 2.2 billion.
Lim also urged the business community to explore the capacity building programmes available in the RCEP framework as it enables the development and expansion of supply chains among members.
“The capacity building arrangement ensures that economies at different levels of development and businesses of varying sizes have the opportunities to maximise the benefits from implementing their commitments,” he said.
He said Malaysia stands to greatly benefit from the larger market integration, thanks to the strategic location at the heart of this region, the reduced trade barriers and better trade facilitation that will further enhance market access to other countries with lower costs for businesses.
“However, in the face of stiff competition, businesses need to act fast,” he stressed.
He also assured that MITI will strive to promote more investment that complies with the environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards and sustainable development goals (SDGs) as well as create a more competitive and business-friendly environment.
On Malaysia-China trade relationship, Lim said Malaysian companies need to capitalise on the strong ties between both countries to partner and collaborate with Chinese and other foreign companies interested to expand into China’s huge market or working with Chinese companies to expand into markets beyond China.
Quoting the Chinese statistics, he said Malaysia’s trade with China totalled US$176.80 billion (US$1=RM4.20), which is a record high in 2021.
“ASEAN, on the other hand, is China’s biggest regional partner with a total trade amounting to US$878.21 billion,” he said.
For Malaysia, the RCEP opens greater opportunities towards economic recovery as the country emerged from the pandemic and the agreement also brings about immense opportunities for businesses to expand within the Asia-Pacific region, he added.