KUCHING: Malaysia’s total trade went up by 5.9 per cent to RM1.5 trillion last year from RM1.4 trillion in 2013.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the export value increased by 6.4 per cent from RM46.1 billion to RM766.1 billion, while import value also increased by 5.3 per cent from RM34.3 billion to RM683 billion.
“Strong export growth has contributed to the trade surplus for 17th consecutive year. The trade surplus for 2014 indicated an increase of 16.6 per cent, an improvement compared to negative growth (-22.8 per cent) recorded in 2012 and (-25.7 per cent) in 2013.
“The manufacturing sector has contributed RM587.3 billion, an increase of 7.1 per cent from RM39.1 billion,” he said when addressing industry players in the state during a meet the people session on Thursday.
Muhyiddin said a total of 3,966 projects were approved in the country with a capital investment worth RM259.9 billion from 2010 to September 2014, adding these investment projects had generated 432,866 job opportunities.
From that figure, 155 projects with a capital investment of RM35.4 billion or 13.6 per cent were approved in Sarawak.
They comprised domestic investment amounting to RM8.4 billion or 7.6 per cent and RM26.9 billion or 17.9 per cent for foreign direct investment and generated 20,039 jobs.
Muhyiddin said he was aware of various companies in Sarawak facing issues such as high port charges, insufficient skilled workers, foreign worker issues, disruption of electricity supply and inefficient infrastructure which required upgrading.
“I have been made to understand that these issues are currently being addressed by the relevant agencies,” he said.
On the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), he said the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (Miti), through SME Corp Malaysia, planned and executed various programmes and provided financial assistance.
He noted SMEs made up 98.5 per cent of the total business establishments in Malaysia.
“They are indeed the backbone of our economy and the total SME establishments in Sarawak are continuously increasing to more than 43,000 in 2014. In respect of business support, various assistance in the form of grants and advisory services have been appropriately shared with the SMEs,” he said.
To date, Muhyiddin said 448 youths had received their certificate of recognition and grants worth RM15,000 per person under the Tunas Usahawan Belia Bumiputera (Tube) programme actively executed by SME Corp Malaysia.
In Sarawak alone, 50 successful participants had commenced their business operations and were currently being monitored by business councillors under the supervision of SME Corp Malaysia for a period of 12 months, he added.
Other support programmes for SMEs included Business Accelerator Programme (BAP), Enrichment and Enhancement Programme for micro enterprises and Bumiputera Enrichment Enhancement Programme (Beep).
Among those present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, Minister of Industrial Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan, Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg and Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Hamim Samuri.