KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 - SME Bank has allocated a RM100 million fund to provide funding with a payback period of up to 15 years for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to export their products under the SME Go programme.

The programme, held in collaboration with Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, is an SME Bank initiative to support the government's pre-emptive measures to strengthen the economy, SME Bank said in a statement today.

"Eligible SMEs will be given help and advice as well as marketing assistance to penetrate the international market.

"To qualify for the loan, an SME owner must be a Malaysian with a minimum of three years in business and involved in industries or sectors promoted by the government or identified by SME Bank," it said.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak laid out pre-emptive measures to offset the volatile economic conditions to deal with the plunge in crude oil prices and the weakening of the ringgit.

In an effort to help customers affected by the recent floods, SME Bank said it had deferred repayment of loans among victims for six months from December last year.

For more information on the SME Go funding, visit or call the customer service line at 1-800-88-3131. (BERNAMA)

ZURICH (Switzerland)  Jan 22- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, arrived here late Wednesday to attend the 45th World Economic Forum (WEF) which begins today until Jan 24.

Najib, who arrived at 10.10 pm (local time) was received at the Zurich ExecuJet Terminal of the Zurich International Airport by Malaysian Ambassador to Switzerland Datuk Mohd Zulkephli Mohd Noor and his wife Datin Anna Amalina Imam Baweh.

Making his second appearance at the WEF as Prime Minister, Najib is leading the Malaysian delegation to this year's forum, themed "The New Global Context".

Najib, is expected to deliver a strong message, as well as, lay the right foundation towards the realisation of the Asean Economic Community in line with Malaysia's chairmanship of the regional grouping this year.

Encompassing 10 diverse countries, Asean today is home to more than 600 million people with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$2.4 trillion, making it the seventh largest grouping in the world.

Besides Najib, other head of states or government that have confirmed their participation include King Abdullah II of Jordan and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

The annual forum will be held in Davos, a mountain resort in Graubunden, the eastern Alps region of Switzerland, located about two hours drive from Zurich.

It will see the congregation of more than 40 world leaders, as well as, more than 2,500 participants comprising chief executive officers, academic scholars, regional experts, policy makers and business leaders from 140 countries.

Najib is also scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with his Kazakhstan counterpart Karim Massimov, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

He will also hold talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The WEF, which is a Swiss non-profit foundation based in Cologny, Geneva, is an independent international organisation committed in bringing business, political, academic and other leaders to improve the state of the world. (BERNAMA)

SEOUL, Jan. 22 - South Korea's presidential office said Thursday no decision has been made yet about whether President Park Geun-hye will visit Moscow in May for a key Russian anniversary.

DAVOS, Switzerland, Jan 22 - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said here Wednesday that the world's second largest economy is not heading for a hard landing.

As the Chinese economy has entered a state of new normal, the shift of growth gear from high speed to medium-to-high speed reflects the profound adjustment of the world economy, and is consistent with the law of economics, Li said in a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting.

In 2015, China plans to withstand downward pressure and continue with its strategic focus, added the premier.

"We will continue to pursue a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy," Li said. "We will step up anticipatory adjustment and fine-tuning as well as targeted macro-regulation, in order to stabilize economic growth, upgrade its structure and achieve better quality and performance."

For the Chinese economy to maintain medium-to-high speed of growth and achieve medium-to-high level of development, Li said, China must properly use the hand of the government and the hand of the market, and give full scope to both the traditional and new engines of growth.

"To foster a new engine of growth," Li said, "we need to encourage mass entrepreneurship and innovation, and mobilize the wisdom and power of the people."

"To transform the traditional engine of growth, we need to focus on increasing the supply of public goods and services, and strengthening the weak link of the economy," the premier said.

China, he added, will continue to promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and open up its service sector, central and western regions as well as the capital market wider to the outside world.

"China will encourage its companies to explore the international market, and work for common development with other countries through greater openness towards each other," Li said.

Li arrived here Tuesday for the WEF gathering in this ski resort and a working visit to Switzerland.

This year's WEF winter meeting, which opened Wednesday, will run till Saturday under the overarching theme "The New Global Context."

Over 2,500 participants from across the world are expected to attend the event and exchange views on a wide range of issues, including global economy, environmental protection and non-conventional security. (Xinhua)

Thailand’s Ministry of Commerce has confirmed it has no immediate plan to amend the Foreign Business Act (FBA) to strictly control illicit proxies because it wants to facilitate foreign investment in the country.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015 13:22

Thailand launches Smart Job Centre

BANGKOK, Jan 19  - Thailand has officially launched its first "Smart Job Centre", aiming at providing better access to jobs for Thais at home and abroad via up-to-date technology, while targeting to provide no less than 50,000 jobs to Thai nationals within a year.

DAVOS (Switzerland), Jan 20  "More Opportunities". That is what Malaysia is set to offer at the upcoming World Economic Forum (WEF), which starts tomorrow until Jan 24.

Whether it is business opportunities or ease of doing business in Malaysia, there are plenty to offer on the table amid concerns by economists around the world of a very challenging first half, this year.

All preparations to hold the 45th annual forum at the world's famous ski resort of Davos-Klosters in Switzerland are in place despite the shivering cold weather.

With this year's forum themed, "The New Global Context", more than 40 head of states and government, together with 2,500 business leaders, will convene for five days here to discuss current global economic landscapes and strategies, moving forward.

Eye-catching banners reading "Malaysia Doing Business. Building Friendships" and "More Opportunities", placed at strategic locations around the Panorama Hotel, can be spotted from afar together with banners of other delegations, welcoming participants to the WEF who have started to swarm the "little town" of Davos for several days now.

Among world leaders who are expected to attend the forum include Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and South African President Jacob Zuma.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will lead the Malaysian delegation accompanied by the Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Wahid Omar.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, is expected to arrive here on Wednesday (Jan 21).

The annual WEF, which also serves as a platform in promoting public-private cooperation, will, this year, look at ten specific global challenges that is affecting the economy across the globe and ways to overcome the adverse impact and risks to the local economy, as a whole. (BERNAMA)

SEOUL, Jan. 20 - Domestic oil consumption versus gross domestic product (GDP) in South Korea was expected to fall to the lowest level since 1970 this year, boosting corporate earnings and domestic consumption, according to analysts and data Tuesday.

The ratio of oil import in South Korea's GDP was forecast to fall to 3.33 percent this year, down from 6.11 percent in 2014, according to the state-run Korea Energy Economics Institute (KEEI).

When excluding oil imports assigned for exports of refined petroleum products, the proportion will slip from 3.15 percent on-year to 1.71 percent this year, the lowest since it marked 1.47 percent in 1970, the KEEI said.

The estimate was based on the 2015 crude prices forecast by the International Monetary Fund at US$56.7 per barrel, a 41.1 percent slump from last year.

The ratio hit 7.85 percent in 1980 in the wake of the 1979 oil shock and remained close to 5 percent in 2011 and 2012. The last time the ratio fell to the 1 percent level was in 1998.

South Korea was expected to save about $18.9 billion from falling oil prices, which would add up to $38.4 billion when combined with the drop in gas and coal prices, the KEEI said, noting the biggest winner will be households, followed by companies and the government.

"Although negative impacts of plunging oil prices have been highlighted, the cost-saving effect will be felt by economic participants starting from the second quarter," Kim Sung-no, a strategist at KB Investment & Securities, said.

Kim said savings in transportation costs and raw materials will enhance corporate earnings, especially utility firms and airlines.

In South Korea, which heavily relies on crude imports, market watchers expected cheaper oil would improve corporate earnings and boost domestic consumption as individuals would have more money to spend on other things.

If the gasoline prices fall about 20-25 percent this year compared to 2013, the energy cost versus total household consumption was projected to shed 3.53-3.77 percent, according to the state-funded Korea Institute for Industrial Economics and Trade (KIET).

The ratio of energy bills in household consumption was estimated to have declined to 4.3 percent last year, compared with 4.17 percent in 2013, which resulted in hikes in household income.

Although the decrease in transportation expenses was limited from unchanged rates, cheaper oil prices immediately lowered fuel costs.

The average retail gasoline price fell to 1,499.20 won per liter last week, going below the 1,500 won level for the first time in February 2009.

A 10 percent drop in crude prices would increase South Korea's outbound shipments by 0.55 percent, while slashing local manufacturers' production costs by 1.03 percent, the KIET said.

Market watchers raised hopes that the improved earnings outlook may push up shares of major exporters, which weighed down on the local stock market last year.

"As companies and households are expected to enjoy benefiting from cheaper oil prices, investors will be hoping for better corporate earnings this year," Cho Jung-hyun, a researcher at KB Investment & Securities, said. "If the positive earnings prospect becomes reality, there is much room for the benchmark KOSPI to rise." (Yonhap)

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 17 - The number of flood victims in Perak as at 8 am today showed a slight increase from last night while in Kelantan it remained the same as reported last night.

The number of evacuees in Perak rose to 867 compared to 817 last night while there are 520 in Kelantan.

Overall the number has increased to 1,387 flood victims from 1,337 last night.

In PERAK, state National Security Council (MKN) chairman said Perak Tengah recorded 689 evacuees, Hilir Perak (144) and Hulu Perak (34).

Eight relief centres are opened in the three districts to house 238 affected families.

In KELANTAN, a spokesman from the Kelantan MKN said as at 8 am, 490 victims involving 109 families were still placed at 12 relief centres in Kuala Krai.

In Machang, 30 individuals from eight families are still at the relief centre in Sekolah Kebangsaan Temangan.

Although the flood waters have receded, the victims still remained in the releif centre as they had lost their homes due floods last month.

The government is the midst of building temporary dwellings for them.

Meanwhile sunny weather in Kelantan is reported this morning.

SEOUL, Jan 17 - The number of passengers using Korean Air Line Co., South Korea's top flag carrier, dropped in December apparently affected by the so-called "nut rage" that has tarnished its image among travelers, industry data showed Saturday.

Cho Hyun-ah, the eldest daughter of Korean Air chairman Cho Yang-ho, resigned as a vice president for cabin service four days after a national uproar over her conduct aboard a Seoul-bound Korean Air flight from New York on Dec. 5.

The plane had already been taxiing when she ordered the chief flight attendant to deplane over the way she was served macadamia nuts -- in an unopened pack instead of on a plate. She was indicted for jeopardizing flight safety and the incident has tarnished the airline company's brand image significantly, with some customers boycotting its service.

According to the data provided by Incheon International Airport Corp. and Korea Airports Corp., Korean Air transported a total of 482,000 passengers through its domestic lines last month, down 6.6 percent from a year earlier.

The decline contrasted with a 13.2 percent hike for its smaller rival Asiana Airlines Inc., which flew 358,000 customers last month. The gap between the two largest airlines in terms of passengers narrowed from 158,000 to 76,000 over the past one year.

This also comes despite an 11.5 percent on-year increase in the total number of passengers using domestic flights provided by seven carriers.

Industry experts attribute the lackluster results of Korean Air to customers' avoidance of its service in the wake of the incident.

"It seems that there are not a few passengers opting for other airline services following the incident, given that there are many options available when it comes to domestic flights," an industry expert said.

Korean Air also underperformed next to other airliners on international lines.

The company transported a total of 1.38 million passengers through its international flight services last month, up 2.5 percent from a year earlier. This is lower than the industry-wide 9.2 percent hike in the number of passengers traveling overseas, the data showed.

In particular, Asiana Airlines seems to be basking in its rival's setback with the number of international passengers using its flights growing 9 percent. Low-cost carriers also saw their international passengers jump across the board.

Korean Air said that there is no marked change in its booking ratio and that there is no relations between the number of passengers and the incident since most of tickets were booked months earlier. It expects that bookings for February and March are about 5 percent higher than last year.

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