STAKEHOLDERS EXPECT GROWTH THIS YEAR
Chinese chamber survey indicates optimism among its members till 2019
AND SERI NOR NADIAH KORIS KUALA LUMPUR email@example.com
BUSINESS stakeholders nationwide are upbeat about the country’s economic outlook for this year and the next. Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) president Datuk Ter Leong Yap told Bernama that he was optimistic about the outlook for the year despite cautious sentiments.
He said 35.3 per cent of respondents in an ACCCIM survey felt optimistic in seeing improvements in their businesses.
ACCCIM economic survey unit of commerce committee member Peck Boon Soon said exports had picked up since last year, and members believed that there would be more investments coming in for the first half of the year.
Peck said 72 per cent of respondents said their businesses were either “good” or “satisfactory”.
In the manufacturing sector, 75 per cent said their performance had somewhat “improved” or “sustained”, he said, adding that seven per cent of respondents in the wholesale and retail sector also noticed “improvements”.
“The marginal improvement in sales may be attributed to the slight expansion of the economy, which had grown from last year.
“Malaysia’s economic performance continues to be largely supported by private sector demand, which too, has shown positive growth to record 6.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016.”
The survey also showed the Chinese business community having great confidence in the country’s economic growth up to 2019.
Respondents who expected a reduced production rate for the next six months had fallen to 33 per cent, from 40 per cent in the previous year.
Kuala Lumpur Malay Chamber of Commerce president Don Nazwim Don Najib said the organisation was encouraged by the economic outlook despite uncertainties in major markets, such as the United States, East Asia and Europe.
“Production, foreign direct investments and export data trajectories suggest a pick-up in sentiment. We are now cautiously optimistic on the clarity and continuity of economic policies as well as the sustainability of the ringgit,” he said.
“Expansion to new markets, adaptation of technology and best practices among Malaysia’s business community, especially the Bumiputera business community, are imperative towards capitalising on these opportunities and enhancing competitiveness in this increasingly globalised market,” said Don Nazwim.
Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) chief executive officer Dr Mohd Shahreen Zainoreen Madros said the weakened ringgit had given Malaysia a competitive edge.
He said the rise of sentiment was largely in the export sector due to government policies and a slew of bilateral agreements with economic powerhouses, such as China, Saudi Arabia and Asean.
“We are very active and dynamic. There are a lot of potential markets that will help boost our economic landscape in the future,” said Shahreen.
The ACCCIM’s survey, entitled “Survey on Economic Situation of Malaysia for the 2nd Half of 2016”, had collected feedback from 359 respondents.
The respondents identified government policies, increase in operating costs and prices of raw materials, increase in domestic competition and manpower shortage as the reasons for poor business performance in the first half of last year.
Forty per cent of respondents said they had passed on the cost increase of the new minimum wage law to consumers, while 27 per cent adopted other cost-cutting measures.
Despite the significant increase in costs, 60 per cent of the businessmen said their operations could still be maintained, while 38 per cent said their sales were badly affected.
The weak ringgit and a slew of bilateral agreements have given Malaysia a competitive edge in the export business.
Datuk Ter Leong Yap