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Asean needs to collaborate to harness Asia-Pacific potential — Tengku Zafrul

Publish date: Thu, 13 Jun 2024, 07:36 PM

SINGAPORE (June 13): Malaysia and Singapore, together with the rest of Asean, must collaborate to harness the region’s potential, especially in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) which is expected to contribute 90% to global e-commerce growth between 2021 and 2026.

Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said while Malaysia strives to position itself as a preferred investment destination, it also needs to work with neighbouring countries and propel the region as a whole. “Such as on supply chain security, digital economy, green economy, and other areas,” he said.

Tengku Zafrul said this after co-chairing the second Annual Ministerial Dialogue (AMD) with Singapore Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong here on Thursday.

Malaysia’s Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) and Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), in a joint statement following the AMD, said both ministers reaffirmed the importance of strengthening bilateral economic cooperation and have agreed to continue close collaboration. They also welcomed the establishment of a new Supply Chain Cooperation Workgroup (SCWG), building upon common interests in supply chain resilience following the impact experienced by both countries during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SCWG, co-led by both ministries, will convene regular exchanges and explore ways to enhance supply chain resilience. “Our experiences highlight the interdependency of our economies, and the potential for stronger cooperation to enhance the resilience of our supply chains before the next global disruption,” the statement said.

Both ministers also welcomed the Framework on Cooperation in Digital Economy in areas such as trade facilitation, cloud computing, real-time payment system connectivity and anti-online scam protection. “These initiatives contribute towards digitalising cross-border trade activities and interoperability,” the statement said, adding that Singapore and Malaysia are discussing with regional partners in these areas under the Asean Digital Economy Framework Agreement.

Both ministers also noted that the Implementation Roadmap to Establish Regionally Comparable and Recognised Asean Unique Business Identification Number (UBIN), expected to complete later this year, will provide opportunities for both nations to explore further bilateral initiatives that will support regional market integration. They also noted the ongoing discussions on cross-border e-invoicing initiatives, which will enable businesses in both countries to send invoices more easily to their cross-border customers when Malaysia and Singapore adopt the Peppol International (PINT) Specifications standard by the end of this year.

In addition, Malaysia and Singapore will continue to hold information exchanges between policymakers to enhance mutual understanding and explore opportunities for collaboration in the digital and green economies, including in areas such as cybersecurity. “The Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and Malaysia’s National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) plan to conduct a session to exchange perspectives on cybersecurity topics such as Secure-by-Design and Cyber Resilience towards promoting cyber security measures for businesses,” the statement said.

Both ministers also welcomed the launch of the updated Malaysia-Singapore Third Country Business Development Fund (MSBDF) in March, led by EnterpriseSG and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA). The updated mechanism provides support for Singapore and Malaysia’s trade associations and businesses to undertake joint business missions and conduct feasibility studies for collaboration in third countries, as well as joint pilots.

Both ministers reaffirmed the commitment to continue high level exchanges and work together bilaterally and within Asean to bring mutual benefits to the people, businesses and economies. “With Malaysia’s Asean chairmanship in 2025, there are opportunities for Singapore and Malaysia to partner and advance interests in the region,” the statement said.

In 2023, Malaysia was Singapore’s third largest trading partner with bilateral trade of US$92.1 billion. Singapore was also Malaysia’s largest source of foreign investment, contributing US$9.6 billion (RM43.7 billion) or 23.2% of Malaysia's total foreign investments in 2023.

Launched in 2023, the AMD between MTI and MITI serves to strengthen bilateral economic cooperation and explore synergies in new and forward-looking areas like the digital economy and green economy.

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