Digital Free Trade Zone goes live on Nov 3
Malaysia’s stride into the world of digital economy will become a reality when the visionary digital free trade zone (DFTZ) goes live today. The initiative, the world’s first DFTZ outside China, was launched in March this year by Prime Minister Najib Razak and Alibaba founder Jack Ma. DFTZ will provide physical and virtual zones to facilitate SMEs to capitalise on the convergence of exponential growth of the Internet economy and cross-border e-commerce activities, among others. The set-up will include an e-fulfillment hub, satellite services hub and an e-services platform to stimulate growth in electronic trade which will also function to support Internet companies to trade goods, provide services, innovate and co-create solutions. An allocation of RM83.5 million for infrastructure construction for the first phase of DFTZ in Aeropolis, KLIA was announced recently. Further expansion of the DFTZ is being planned for beyond 2019. (NST Online)

MARC: Easing mortgage rules not the answer
Malaysian Rating Corp Bhd (MARC) said loosening mortgage lending to boost home ownership is not an option for a country with high household debt. Malaysia’s household debt stood at 88.4% of gross domestic product (GDP) as at December 2016, which is among the highest in the region. The rating agency said in its “Affordable Housing Woes: Holistic Long-Term Policies Necessary” report that it is important to assess the potential adverse consequences before proposals aimed at encouraging home ownership through easy financing are considered. MARC said Malaysia’s housing problem revolves around low income and expensive houses. (The Sun Daily)

Luster forms JV to develop 3.7ha Hulu Langat land
Precision plastic injection moulding service provider Luster Industries Bhd has entered into a JV agreement to develop a 3.6725 hectare piece of land in Hulu Langat into either commercial, residential or mixed development. Currently, proposals are still at the preliminary stage and thus unable to ascertain the total development value, cost and the expected profit to be derived from the proposed development. The JV is expected to be completd in 2022. (The Edge Markets)

BSL Corp forms JV to explore property acquisition, development
BSL Corp Bhd is establishing a joint venture with Wong Sze Chien to explore acquisition, investment and development opportunities in properties. BSL intends to diversify its income stream through new businesses opportunities. It is expected to provide an additional revenue stream to BSL Group and diversify its earning base. The JV company with Wong, BSL Development Sdn Bhd, was formed for the purpose. (The Edge Markets)

Japan remains Malaysia’s top source of FDIs
Japan continues to be Malaysia’s top source of foreign direct investments (FDIs) in the manufacturing sector since 1980, with a total of 2,621 manufacturing projects implemented as at 2016. Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) said the projects attracted RM88.5bil in investments. Mida said Japanese companies also continued to use Malaysia as a base to conduct their regional and global operations. The investments approved in January – June 2017 would create 600 more job opportunities, and the bulk of these (75%) were for expansion and diversification activities of existing Japanese companies operating in the country. (The Star Online)

25,000 affordable homes for Armed Forces by 2030
The Defence Ministry targets to build 25,000 units of affordable houses for Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) personnel and veterans across the country by 2030 through the SaSar (One Member, One House) programme. The SaSaR programme is a scheme to reduce dependence on living quarters and encouraging members of MAF to buy a house while still in service at the ratio of 70% personnel to 30% veterans. The ministry has also identified a location to build a hospital specifically for MAF veterans. (The Sun Daily)

Second bid to revive former Pines
The former Pines group of restaurants in Brickfields, which used to attract bus loads of visitors with its seafood dishes for almost 50 years, will soon be re-purposed into a community convention centre. This will be second time the Pines will be remodelled, the first being demolished to build the Tun Sambanthan Complex. It was opened early last year but failed to attract visitors. Only a handful of stalls are operating in Tun Sambanthan Complex due to poor business. There were many complaints that the carpark was badly designed and there were many defects throughout the building due to shoddy workmanship. (The Star Online)

The Tun Sambanthan Complex in Brickfields -KAMARUL ARIFFIN and AZMAN GHANI/The Star

Malaysia’s e-Commerce grew 47% fron 2015 – Facebook
Malaysia’s e-commerce sector has grown by 47% from 2015 and is now worth US$2.41 billion, said Facebook Malaysia country manager Nicole Tan. On average, Malaysians spent 187 minutes daily on their mobile phones, and businesses as such should take the opportunity to implement the right e-commerce strategy to promote products and services. “With Southeast Asia being pegged as the new frontier for e-commerce, it is critical for consumer goods businesses to implement the right strategy for their brand,” she said. (NST Online)