1. Malaysia not under US visa waiver programme
  2. SME Bank ties up with TM, Commerce.Asia for SME funding digitalisation
  3. Malaysia´s economy to remain on expansionary path — MIDF Research
  4. RAM Ratings expects Malaysia’s trade growth to recover in March
  5. University of Nottingham Malaysia signs RM 2.5 million agreement with MES Asia to enhance industry-academic partnership
  6. India braces for cyclone, puts navy on alert

Malaysia not under US visa waiver programme
Malaysia’s Foreign Ministry has responded to a news portal report that has wrongly stated that Malaysia is listed under the United States visa waiver programme. Wisma Putra said to date, there had been no change in the status of the programme for Malaysians. “Malaysians wanting to visit the US are still required to apply for visas the normal way, ” the ministry said in a statement today. It said the incorrect information was contained in the article entitled ´US Adds Jamaica, 9 Other Countries to Its Visa Waiver Program´ via news link news-ap.com. “The ministry calls for an immediate halt to the circulation of the news through WhatsApp and any other social or communication channels, ” the statement said.

SME Bank ties up with TM, Commerce.Asia for SME funding digitalisation
Small Medium Enterprise Development Bank Malaysia Bhd (SME Bank), an agency under the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development, has signed two Memoranda of Understanding with Telekom Malaysia Bhd (TM) and Commerce.Asia to develop the National Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Digital Platform which will provide financing access for small and micro enterprises (pic). In a statement issued today, SME Bank said the agreement with TM was signed on Tuesday, which enables the bank to gain access to TM’s digital infrastructure and services such as high-speed Internet, data centre and cloud computing, while allowing it to explore digital solutions for the SME’s financing needs. The collaboration with Commerce.Asia will increase the National SME Digital Platform through access to more than 700,000 SME database in Malaysia, besides getting access to a complete e-commerce technology ecosystem. “The National SME Digital Platform is one of the efforts by SME Bank which is comprehensive and represents a solution for the bank to become the leader in the SME ecosystem, built on the Industrial Revolution 4.0 wave, besides giving us the ability to make decisions based on improved data and portfolio management,” said SME Bank group president/chief executive officer, Aria Putera Ismail, in the statement. He added that the National SME Digital Platform would change the way the SMEs are assisted and was developed to also drive the SME contribution to the national economy.

Malaysia’s economy to remain on expansionary path — MIDF Research
Malaysia’s economy is expected to remain on an expansionary path and continue growing from June to August, albeit at a moderate pace backed by better global outlook and strong fundamentals. In its monthly economic review released today, MIDF Research said it foresees a slight recovery towards the second quarter of 2019 and the second half of the year amid a gradual pick-up in commodity prices, strong domestic demand and receding fear of trade war. “Global demand is expected to recover as the US and China is expected to strike a trade deal in early May,” it said. On the local front, MIDF research said the consumer price index (CPI) increased 0.2 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) in March 2019 as forecast, rebounding from the deflation in the previous two months. “The recovery was mainly driven by an improvement in the transport component besides continuous increase in food and non-alcoholic beverages,” it said. MIDF Research added that it was optimistic to see continuous solid domestic demand in 2019, underpinned by a stable job market, wage growth, low inflationary pressure and steady economic growth.

RAM Ratings expects Malaysia’s trade growth to recover in March
RAM Ratings expects Malaysia’s trade growth to recover in March, with export and import growth rebounding to a respective 2.5 and 2.9 per cent after the preceding month’s declines. Trade activity had been more subdued in February amid the lunar new year festivities, compounded by an already short working month, RAM said in a statement today. “That said, the pace of expansion is expected to remain lacklustre amid more muted industrial activity growth in key regional markets, coupled with businesses’ caution while awaiting further clarity on the direction of the US-China trade dispute. “Malaysia’s overall trade surplus is anticipated to come in at RM14.8 billion in March,” it said. The rating agency said that the US and China have been engaged in trade negotiations since the start of the year, in search of a solution to the protracted trade war between them. “Details are scant at the moment, but a deal will most certainly entail China’s commitment to increasing its purchases of American goods to narrow its trade surplus with the US. This may lead to another round of disruptions in trade flows as China’s demand for goods from existing regional suppliers is diverted away to US producers. “Initial talks in January had led to China agreeing to raise its imports of American agricultural, energy and industrial/manufactured goods,” it said. RAM’s head of research Kristina Fong said based on RAM’s initial assumptions on how this potential deal could turn out, the most significant impact on Malaysia would be the diversion of China’s demand for electrical and electronic goods to the US. “This will be particularly so for electronic integrated circuits, which constitute 27.3 per cent of Malaysia’s exports to China and 5.1 per cent of our total exports,” she said.

University of Nottingham Malaysia signs RM 2.5 million agreement with MES Asia to enhance industry-academic partnership
The University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) has signed a Memorandum of Agreement worth RM 2.5 million with MES Asia. MES Asia a subsidiary company of MES Services Limited, provides digital transformational services with building information modelling, training courses, seminars, events and technical platforms to meet the needs of talents, knowledge and building information modelling technology in order to assist industry elites to achieve international standards. The MOA will assist in raising the level of knowledge and facilitate the transfer of knowledge between MES Asia and UNM on digital construction and building information modelling using ShareBIM software. In addition, the application and usage of the ShareBIM software will enhance the industry-academic partnership through improvements in teaching, research and in the students’ experience. The ShareBIM software is a cloud-based floating platform that does not require specific locations, computers or physical setup and installations. Through this partnership, MES Asia will sponsor 50 ShareBIM licences, amounting to RM 2.5 million to UNM over a period of five years.

India braces for cyclone, puts navy on alert
India has deployed emergency personnel and ordered the navy on standby as it braced for an extremely severe cyclonic storm barrelling towards the eastern coast. Tropical Cyclone Fani, located in the Bay of Bengal and packing wind speeds up to 205 kilometres per hour, is expected to make landfall at Odisha state on Friday. Authorities have also ordered the evacuation of thousands of people from coastal districts likely to bear the brunt of the storm. The neighbouring coastal states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu states have also been put on a high alert. India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said the sea conditions were “phenomenal” over the west-central Bay of Bengal area.