KUALA LUMPUR, 13 Nov 2008: Malaysia needs to promote its services sector as its potential has not been fully exploited, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said today.
He said the liberalisation of the sector in the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) was just not in terms of investments, but also trade as it involved selling professional services like construction, logistics, utilities and professional services overseas.
“So far we are more focused on the products, but the potential for the services sector has not been fully exploited,” he told reporters after opening the Intrade Malaysia 2008 and KL International Trade Forum 2008 here today.
Citing construction, Muhyiddin said, Malaysian companies had won big contracts in Pakistan, India and Middle East and had done quite well.
“That is one sector we should be able to promote. Of course, there are tourism-related, education and healthcare sectors which we feel we can also promote,” he said.
Earlier, at the opening of the event, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Asean was pursuing comprehensive liberalisation of the services sector as it had contributed significantly to the gross domestic product of member states.
“In my view, this sector offers abundant opportunities for investment and trade, particularly in the construction, healthcare, education and professional services sub-sectors,” he said.
Abdullah said many of the products and services showcased at this year’s Intrade 2008 enjoyed preferential treatment under the free trade agreements (FTAs) concluded by Malaysia either bilaterally or together with Asean partners.
“Hence, companies from Asean, as well as Japan, China, South Korea and Pakistan should leverage on the concessions negotiated under these FTAs to expand their commercial transactions.
He said companies from non-FTA partner countries could also benefit from these FTAs by locating their operations in any of the partner countries.
Abdullah was also confident that Asean would continue to attract significant inflows of foreign domestic investments although there was a risk that the current financial crisis might have some effects on the level and timing of potential investments.
“The lower projected global economic growth and its impact on trade should be a compelling reason enough for the private sector to leverage on the Asean market to offset the uncertainties affecting global markets and the anticipated lower demand from developed countries,” he said. — Bernama