The Small and Medium Enterprises Association of Malaysia (SAMENTA), has welcomed the National Industry ESG Framework, known as i-ESG and launched by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), noting that it comes at a crucial time.

Datuk William Ng, the national president of SAMENTA, believes that it provides essential guidance for SMEs as they navigate the complex landscape of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) requirements.

Ng highlighted the challenges faced by exporting SMEs, noting that they have been burdened with new ESG demands from clients in developed economies. These demands often come with a multitude of standards and frameworks, and SMEs have limited resources to comply with all of them.

Failing to meet these requirements could result in exclusion from the global supply chain.

He pointed out that the introduction of i-ESG now offers a national framework that serves as both a guideline and a “proof of compliance” needed by destination markets.

Ng also commended MITI’s “Just Transition” approach, emphasising that SAMENTA views it positively and appreciating MITI’s responsiveness to industry feedback, which has contributed to the framework’s supportive nature. He encourages manufacturing SMEs to embrace i-ESG promptly.

Additionally, Ng expressed the association’s anticipation of further government support, such as low-interest loans to assist SMEs in financing plant redesign, equipment upgrades, consultancy services, and ESG training.

Acknowledging that many SMEs may not be fully prepared for ESG, Ng believes MITI’s decision not to mandate full compliance with any standard is appropriate, given the varying requirements set by customers and importers.

Furthermore, SAMENTA has been proactive in establishing a Sustainability and Circular Economy Working Group three years ago.

Ng reaffirmed SAMENTA’s commitment to collaborating with MITI and other agencies to facilitate the transition of SMEs, both in manufacturing and services sectors, into the low-carbon economy.


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