TAPiO Newsletter – January 2020 Issue

DIPLOMATIC SPHERE

Gustavus Adolphus College made their world premiere at the Experimental Theatre Aswara

The ensemble included The Gustavus Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dr. Ruth Lin as well as the Jazz Ensemble directed by Dr. Dave Stamps. ASWARA is the only tertiary institution fully supported by the Malaysian Government under the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture. ASWARA provides education, research, and academic publishing as well as professional advisory services in cultural arts aimed at producing skilled artists and talented employees in its field while enhancing the continuity of the country’s artistic heritage. In principle, ASWARA focuses on education in arts to produce knowledgeable and professional performers to support the country’s art industry. The Chairman of TAPiO Management Advisory and title sponsor Mr. Bernhard Schutte expressed that art is the key to innovation and encourages the audience to embrace the notion that art influences experience and achievements. The Asian Premiere Concert was successfully organised by Showtime Studio, with over 400 guests including VIP from embassies and high-level corporate officials.

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BUSINESS

Foreign investors still have interest in Malaysia: MIDF

Although there is an increasing focus on other asset classes particularly the bond market, foreign investors still have interest in Malaysia. In November 2019, foreigners flocked into the bond market to the tune of RM8.1 billion. MIDF Amanah Investment Bank Bhd Research (MIDF Research) said international funds sold RM11.4 billion worth of Malaysian equities in 2019, although it was much less compared with the more than RM15 billion foreign net outflow seen in 2015 and Malaysia remains as the country with the largest outflow amongst ASEAN markets. According to MIDF Research, international investors accumulated US$23.65 billion worth of local equities in the seven Asian markets that it tracks (South Korea, Taiwan, India, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia), the second-highest in the past five years (from 2015 to 2019). MIDF Research stated that the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) might see its valuation tapering towards the lower end of its historical range under the circumstances that a baseline scenario in which the US-China trade dispute fails to achieve full closure and the East Asian region continues to be beset by the relative lack of liquidity-induced macro reflationary prospects.

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iRobot begins manufacturing operations in Malaysia

iRobot, a maker of consumer robots which is one of the popular robotic vacuum cleaner, has officially started production in Malaysia ahead of schedule. A manufacturing solutions working with Jabil Inc. iRobot has expanded its manufacturing capabilities into Malaysia as part of its strategic supply chain diversification initiative. Colin Angle, chairman and CEO at iRobot stated that establishing manufacturing operations in Malaysia is a fundamental component in our initiative to diversify iRobot’s manufacturing and supply chain capabilities, while also mitigating their exposure to current and prospective tariffs on products that are imported from China. He also believe that their investment to establish manufacturing operations in Malaysia will serve well as the global demand for home cleaning robots across multiple categories continues to grow. iRobot is now producing limited quantities of one Roomba 600 Series model in Malaysia but plans to accelerate volume production for this model beginning in the first quarter of 2020.

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12th Malaysia Plan to crystallise SPV2030 implementation

The 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) will further develop the implementation of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030 (SPV2030) which a new initiative is providing a 10-year development roadmap and framework for the country’s economic restructuring to benefit all Malaysians. Measures and courses of action to achieve the SPV2030 goals would be incorporated in the 12MP, which is expected to be tabled to the parliament in the third quarter of this year. Adviser to the Economic Affairs Minister, emphasised that the SPV2030 is a needs-based one aimed at narrowing the economic gap in the context of income irrespective of race. He added that SPV2030 is a rehash of the NEP, with a similar focus on race-based Bumiputera policies, is a misunderstanding. The Minister of Economic Affairs stated that the ministry had conducted 390 engagement sessions with various parties for the plan. He highlighted that 2019 was a productive year for the MEA towards building a strong foundation for implementing the national development agenda to formulate a policy that gives the optimum effect.

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TNB’s second large scale solar project ready next year

Tenaga Nasional Bhd’s (TNB) second Large Scale Solar (LSS) project, located in Bukit Selambau, Kedah, is on track for completion before the end of 2020, as over 84 percent of the project has been completed to-date. The RM180 million project involves the installation of 134,880 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, capable of generating up to 30 megawatts (MW). The project is developed by TNB Bukit Selambau Solar Sdn Bhd and was launched in March 2019. During its construction, the project’s spillover effect on the surrounding areas includes the creation of about 250 jobs in various capacities. TNB is also installing solar panels on the rooftops of the educational institution and government buildings, as well as residential, industrial and commercial properties and has managed to secure approximately 26-megawatt peak (MWp) generation capacity through more than 100 projects. With the LSS, solar PV installations on rooftops and other renewable energy (RE) projects, TNB aims to generate up to 1,700MW from RE by 2025. These RE initiatives are in line with the government’s target of having 20 per cent of the country’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2025.

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Investment agency wraps up ‘Flanders Room’ in Davos

Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon was at the World Economic Forum in Davos meeting business leaders and politicians in the “Flanders Room” to encourage investment in the region. Addressing investors at the event, Jambon stated that he acknowledge the fact that Flanders, as a small, open economy, was vulnerable to shocks in the global economy. He made reference to Brexit, US trade policy, tensions in the Middle East and slow growth in Germany. He confirmed that the Flemish government was committing €75 million as a starting budget for the fund, which was first announced last year and aims to build closer ties between research and industry. Representatives of Flanders Investment & Trade (Fit) are also attending the Forum in Switzerland and the delegation is based in the Flanders Room. It is important as the event is to inform people who are interested in Flanders and to inform them about investments. Foreign companies invested a record amount in Flanders in 2019 – a total of €5.2 billion, creating more than 5,000 jobs, especially in research and development and the chemical sector.

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Kedah 2019 revenue surpasses target — Mukhriz

Menteri Besar Kedah Datuk Seri Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir stated that Kedah recorded revenue of RM726.89 million in 2019, surpassing the target of RM710 million set by the State Government in 2019. He added the biggest contributor to the State’s revenue last year was land-related revenue while one part of the special aid given by the Federal Government was included in the total revenue. The Federal Government had given a special aid of RM200 million, out of which RM150 million was included as State revenue, while the remaining RM50 million was put into the State Government’s trust account. The revenue collection surpassed that achieved in 2018 which amounted to RM559.12 million. He mentioned the other contributors to the State revenue were from the districts, timber revenue and various other activities including the Federal Government special aid. Mukhriz also said the State Government spent some RM214.3 million out of the allocation under the Malaysian Road Records Information System (Marris) for road maintenance throughout the State.

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The US$12 billion reason Mahathir’s Malaysia wants a return to agriculture

In 1991, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad introduced the concept of Vision 2020 which is a plan for the Southeast Asian nation to become self-sufficient and fully industrialised by 2020. The government’s policies in the 1990s sought to push Malaysians from agriculture to the manufacturing sector. Now that 2020 is here, however some policymakers are suggesting a return to agriculture, a former cornerstone of Malaysia’s economy. Grappling with a high food import bill – about RM50 billion (US$12.3 billion) in 2019 – the government has been actively encouraging youths to take on agriculture and agro-food as professions, paying closer attention to grants and loans given out to farmers and fishermen. It has also cultivated ‘agropreneurs’ who bring technology into farming. The agriculture sector contributed RM99.5 billion to the nation’s GDP in 2018, with palm oil the sector’s major contributor at 37.9 per cent.

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MOBILITY

International company has chosen to draw up a master plan for Kulim International Airport-MB Kedah

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir mentioned that the Kedah state government has awarded an international company, the contract to draw up a development master plan for the Kulim International Airport (KXP). The contract awarding process had gone through a complete evaluation and had taken a rather long time to ensure transparency and the government will make an official announcement on the awarding of the contract for the master plan for KXP. Mukhriz said initial works on the land to build the KXP had not started as currently, the state government was still at the land acquisition stage. Mukhriz before had mentioned the state government hoped that KXP could operate by 2024 to meet the cargo and logistic needs, particularly in Kulim and Penang.

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China, Malaysia to develop 1st next-generation vehicle hub in Southeast Asia

Malaysian government agency stated that the country is collaborating with China companies and organizations to develop the first next-generation vehicle (NxGV) hub in the Southeast Asian region. The Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii), an agency under Malaysian International Trade and Industry stated that the institute had signed memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with China Automotive Technology and Research Center (CATARC), Malaysian conglomerate DRB-HICOM and the country’s national car maker Proton, on a cooperation that adds new value dimensions to the development of NxGV hub within Malaysia and the region. The MoUs focus on the development of NxGV testing facilities in Malaysia. The MoU between MARii and CATARC was inked to enhance domestic capabilities in the development and testing of NxGVs within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. As for the MoU between Proton and CATARC, it will potentially enable the Malaysian car company to collaborate with and leverage on the latter’s research and development facilities, especially in the areas of testing related activities.

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GREEN TECHNOLOGY

Kedah attracts RM1.6 bil investment in green technology paper

China-based Zhejiang Element Holding Co Ltd is set to invest RM1.6 billion in the green technology paper industry in Kedah. This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the company, together with its strategic partner Genting Ehsan (SP) Sdn Bhd, and the State Government’s leading investment arm, Invest Kedah Bhd. Invest Kedah will act as a facilitator in helping Zhejiang Element and Genting Ehsan (SP) to realise their investment in the state. Menteri Besar Kedah stated that the agreement inked between Zhejiang Element and Invest Kedah involved three forms of investment, namely the development of a wood flooring factory and a green technology paper industry by the Chinese company, and the cooperation with the Kedah government in the timber and forestry industry. The cooperation involved bringing modern technology to the eucalyptus species planting and processing sector and establishing a new ecological industry chain in Kedah.

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