Pikom: Publicise current status of DFTZ, MSC

The industry and public need to know the details, says Ganesh


TRANSPARENCY of programmes implemented by the government and its initiatives could be one of the keys to woo foreign investors, especially amid the ongoing US-China trade war, says the National ICT Association of Malaysia (Pikom).

Chairman Ganesh Kumar Bangah (picture) said the government should publicise the current status of the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ), which was launched in 2017, and also the performance of companies registered under the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), which was introduced in 1996.

The DFTZ is an initiative to capitalise on the confluence and exponential growth of the Internet economy and cross-border e-commerce activities.

It also helps facilitate seamless cross-border trade and enable local businesses to export goods via the platform.

“The e-commerce economy for South-East Asia is expected to grow from US$50 billion (RM209 billion) to US$250 billion over the next six to seven years and we are in the best position to capitalise on this via the DFTZ, but what are we doing about it?

“Are we still promoting the DFTZ? How is the system of DFTZ going? What are the key performance indicators of DFTZ? Those are all numbers that the industry and the public need to know. Then only can we best position Malaysia,” he told Bernama.

Ganesh said when Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder and executive chairman Jack Ma chose to support the DFTZ, he had glowing things to say about Malaysia becoming the hub of South-East Asia, with Malaysia as the premier destination that other companies would want to come to.

“Are we that premier destination today?” he questioned.

He stressed that other Asean countries are catching up fast and becoming investment destinations for foreign investment, citing Vietnam, where Apple Inc, which set foot there three years ago, is expanding its business and building a data centre.

“The American and Chinese firms would think of South-East Asia when planning to relocate their businesses and Malaysia needs to be one of the countries that come in their vocabulary,” he added.

However, he said local businesses need not worry about the escalating US-China trade war as it is an interim disruption, but they need to buck up their services and expertise to be more competitive and take advantage of the current volatile market.

The companies, he said, need to ensure that they have the right skills set to welcome more foreign investment here and at the same time become the gateway for the Asean region, a market of 651 million people.

On the recently announced MSC 2.0, Ganesh said something is still lacking in terms of clarity of the initiatives.

“It is only for service companies now. What about companies with intellectual property? I think we still have a lot of work to do.”

The MSC was launched by the then fourth Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to create a hub for innovative producers and users of multimedia technology.

Overall, Ganesh said, the US-China trade tiff, which has dragged on for almost two years, would bring investment in the medium to long term but a drop in exports in the short term.

For the first six months of 2019, Selangor, a beneficiary of the trade war, recorded RM5.9 billion in total approved investments in the manufacturing sector, up 90.3% from the RM3.1 billion recorded in the same period last year.

Out of the RM5.9 billion, 64% or RM3.8 billion of total approved investments was in the manufacturing sector.

Exports went down by 3.1% in June to RM76.2 billion from a year ago due to the decline in sales of electrical and electronics items as well as timber products.