1. Malaysian manufacturing improves for the first time since January 2018
  2. Two million healthcare travellers expected by 2020
  3. Aria Putera Ismail is new SME Bank CEO
  4. AirAsia to continue expanding in China
  5. JBIX to leverage on proximity with Singapore to draw global clients

Malaysian manufacturing improves for the first time since January 2018
The Nikkei Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) released today showed that Malaysian manufacturers recorded an improvement in business conditions last month after seven months of decline. This reflected growth in new orders for the first time in seven months and a faster rise in output. On the price front, input cost inflation eased to the slowest since February 2015. PMI recorded for the month of August rose from 49.7 in July to 51.2 in August. Any score above 50 denotes an expansion. The latest reading pointed to a modest improvement in manufacturing conditions across Malaysia, ending a seven-month period of deterioration. The upward movement in the headline PMI index was driven by a rise in new orders for the first time in seven months during August. “Some respondents also mentioned that customers placed their orders before the Sales and Service Tax (SST) takes effect,” said Nikkei in a statement. Nikkei also said that firms raised their staffing levels for the third month in succession during August. Input costs facing Malaysian manufacturers rose during August. Where an increase was reported, firms commented on currency weakness. However, the rate of inflation was marginal and eased to the slowest since February 2015. Nikkei also said looking ahead, business sentiment towards the 12-month outlook was the strongest in four months during August. Positive forecasts of sales and an expected improvement in demand conditions were the key factors behind optimistic projections for output, according to anecdotal evidence.

Government expects 2 mln healthcare travellers by 2020
The Ministry of Finance expects the number of healthcare travellers to increase significantly to two million by 2020 from the current one million, following the tax exemption for medical bills. Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ir Amiruddin Hamzah said previously the six per cent Goods and Services Tax was imposed on medical bills for foreign patients but these are now exempted from the Sales and Services Tax (SST) 2.0. “Medical cost is the second most important factor behind confidence for medical tourists.

SME Bank appoints Aria Putera Ismail as CEO
Aria Putera Ismail has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Small Medium Enterprise Development Bank Malaysia Bhd (SME Bank) effective today. Aria has over18 years of experience in the banking and investment industry. A statement from the Bank said “He specialises in achieving financial goals and providing syariah-compliant solutions, deal negotiations and product innovations across jurisdictions to improve profitability and transactional efficiency.” Aria holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in Islamic Banking and Finance, from the International Islamic University of Malaysia and a Bachelor’s degree (Hons) in Finance and a Diploma in Investment Analysis from Universiti Teknologi MARA. Driven by his passion in financial technology and innovations in banking and financing, he is expected to take SME Bank to a higher level of achievement in nurturing and developing the small and medium enterprises, the bank said.

AirAsia to continue expanding footprint in China
AirAsia will continue expanding its footprint in China, while looking at increasing flight frequency across the country, despite the collapsed deal to establish a low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT). AirAsia Bhd Executive Chairman and AirAsia X Co-Group Chief Executive Officer Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said the airline might revisit its plan to establish a LCCT in China, but only “when the time is right.”  “We are still developing our China market, but (will) develop it without a local licence. The only thing we are restricted at is, we cannot do domestic flights. “We are quite a significant player in China and will remain one,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur. Last week, Air Asia announced that a preliminary agreement signed last year for a joint venture with China Everbright Group and the Henan government, had lapsed and would not be extended.

JBIX to leverage on proximity with Singapore to draw global clients
Internet service provider Extreme Broadband expects to attract more global clients to participate in Malaysia’s second Internet exchange, the Johor Bahru Internet Exchange (JBIX), due to its close proximity with Singapore. Managing Director Weng Yew Wong said Johor Bahru was also chosen for the sheer amount of traffic passing through it, making it one of the most important traffic gateways not just between Malaysia and Singapore but also between Indochina and the rest of the world. Weng said JBIX had attracted 12 companies from four countries — nine from Malaysia and one each from Singapore, Thailand and the United States. He said the Internet exchange had the capacity to provide services to up to 200 companies. Weng said among the targeted sectors to use JBIX were education, small and medium information technology enterprises and financial as well as global ISP and regional telcos.