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      1 August 2019  

SEDIA ECONOMIC TALK: LEVERAGE ON SERVICES TO SUSTAIN GROWTH
 

Kota Kinabalu (Thursday) - The Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) today held a talk entitled "Malaysia's macroeconomic outlook: implications and prospects for Sabah". SEDIA recognised the timeliness of organising the talk, which was given by Dr. Anthony Dass from Ambank, to provide participants with a clearer understanding of the current global economic outlook in regards to how it affects both the Malaysia economy in general, and specifically the Sabah economy. Through the event, SEDIA also solicited feedback from related stakeholders for its strategies moving forward, as well as input for the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) Blueprint v2.0. Participation in the talk was open to the public and over 70 people had attended, which included officers from government ministries, departments and agencies, members of chambers of commerce and trade associations, as well as academicians.

 
  Dr. Anthony Dass seen presenting during the talk organised by SEDIA

The current global economic scenario encompasses several key issues, including protectionist monetary policies in the United States (US), and its trade tensions with China. The US, China and European economies have been experiencing a sharper slowdown, while worldwide debt accumulation is on a rise, with uncertainties over the concluding Brexit also bringing forth further challenges. These global concerns do affect the Malaysian economy, while policymakers have been making efforts to augment the nation's economic and financial strengths.

Malaysia has managed to benefit from the ongoing trade war between US and China, having welcomed business relocations as well as trade and investment diversions. Foreign investors have also taken positively to institutional reforms that have been recently implemented. The country also benefits from a diverse economy with steady growth, a sound financial sector with prudent regulation, favourable debt structure, and deep domestic capital markets. Meanwhile the Sabah economy, traditionally reliant on its primary commodities and minimally processed products, faces a different scenario in making the most of the global economic climate.

The speaker during the talk, Dr. Anthony Dass, is the Group Chief Economist as well as Head of Research at Ambank. He has 25 years of working experience, having begun his career as an economist at Bank Negara Malaysia and later also being involved in stock broking firms, and various government ministries and agencies.

Dr. Anthony emphasised on the digital economy as a new development driver, in line with the government's focus on ensuring the Malaysian workforce keeps up with the adoption of IR 4.0 technologies. This also aligns with SEDIA's current efforts, as SEDIA has adopted a more focused and targeted approach in attracting quality investments in new growth areas, especially in service-based, innovation-led and knowledge-intensive industries including in Industry 4.0.

The talk also promoted the tourism industry as a core growth driver, which is one of the Sabah economy's key strengths. SEDIA has been promoting Sabah, under the SDC investment tagline, "A preferred destination for business, culture and nature". Kota Kinabalu in fact had been ranked among the top liveable cities in Asia in the 2017 "Annual Overseas Retirement Index". With the advantages that Sabah has to offer, the state has managed to attract tremendous interest amongst domestic and foreign investors into Sabah.

Another industry that was highlighted during the talk as having much promise is the animation industry, with a global worth of around USD$260 billion. Asia currently serves as a service hub for US and Europe studios, accounting for USD$52 billion in 2018 for US television animation. Malaysia already has a lively animation industry, of which has an estimated worth of over RM570 million. Under SDC, an incubator facility has been established to develop the creative industry, which is the Sabah Animation and Creative Content Centre (SAC3). SAC3 has trained many school leavers in animation, and also established collaboration with the University of Salford at Manchester, which is located within the world-renowned Media City@UK, to develop expertise in the animation and creative content industry. With funding through SDC, the centre upgraded information and communications technology (ICT) equipment, and the ability to accommodate 200 students.

Dr. Anthony had also pointed out that Malaysia urgently needs to improve its logistics infrastructure in order to remain competitive. During the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, SEDIA has been according greater emphasis on improving the state's economic competitiveness by enhancing the state's global connectivity to ensure seamless movement of people, goods and services. Efforts would be directed especially towards enhancing the efficiency of the logistics sector by improving the relevant infrastructure and the integration of land, sea, and air services. In the long run, this will help in reducing the cost of living and doing business. This emphasis will strengthen the state's competitiveness moving forward into the Twelfth Malaysia Plan, as well as preparing Sabah for the sixth global business cycle that focuses on robotics, alternative energy and human enhancement technology.

During the Q&A session that followed after Dr. Anthony's presentation, participants were keen to seek his input on several issues relevant to Sabah businesses and industries, ranging from cost of conducting business, infrastructure development, the importance of SME participation to GDP growth, oil revenue, Malaysia's economic strengths, and incentives for entrepreneurs. Dr. Anthony has emphasised the need to promote SMEs, and highlighted the urgency to leverage on the digital platform. He pointed out that Malaysian SMEs have been slow in using the digital platform, and in this regard we are behind our neighbouring countries, such as Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

- Media SEDIA

   
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