Thursday March 7, 2013

Miti plans to set up unit to help SMEs settle disputes in tie-ups

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Trade and Industry Ministry is looking to set up a dedicated unit to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) having trade disputes with foreign partners in collaborations.

Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said there had been an number of complaints from local SMEs that their partnerships with foreign partners did not turn out as agreed.

Some of the disputes between partnering companies are over cheating, non-performance of contracts and inferior quality of manufactured products not fulfilling the specifications agreed upon by both parties.

“We have agreed to set up a mechanism for this purpose because not only are others complaining about our companies but our companies are also complaining about their foreign partners,” he said after a conference with 99 foreign missions and 54 bilateral business councils.

“We believe that moving forward, the trade disputes will increase,” he said, adding that the mechanism, some sort of an arbitration centre, should be in place soon.

“It is not too difficult so we will be doing it in the near future.”

On the outlook of the general election, Mustapa expressed confidence in “continuity”, saying businesses would continue to work with familiar faces.

Separately, he noted that Malaysia had enjoyed 15 years of trade surplus since November 1997 and would likely be an Asean powerhouse come 2015. “However, the trade surplus margin has been narrowing in the last few years and we should have trade balances in the next four to five years,” he said.

He added that the ministry was in the midst of putting together a plan to increase the services sector’s contribution to the national gross domestic product.

Miti will also, through the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp, be faciliating mid-tier companies to perform in the domestic and foreign markets through specific support programmes.

Mustapa said Miti would also be spending more resources on Africa and Latin America to increase the profile of Malaysian exports as there was potential in those markets.

There will be policy reviews in the electrical and electronics sector to attract investments for unconventional projects like smartphone components.

He said Miti would also look at cutting down red tape, reducing business processes and increasing transparency in collaboration with global best practice organisations.

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