Malaysia wins WTO praise for impressive economic achievement
Forty-three World Trade Organisation (WTO) members who participated in a question and answer session at the recent two-day 7th Trade Policy Review (TPR) Of Malaysia, in Switzerland, commended the country for its impressive economic achievement, prudent trade and economic policies. Malaysia was also commended for actively pursuing trade openness through unilateral reforms, regional and bilateral trade arrangements and multilateral rule-making. The TPR is an exercise mandated by the WTO Agreement to ensure transparency of trade policies and measures. (NST Online)

REIT sector to record 6% net profit growth this year
The Malaysian REIT segment is expected to record a modest net profit growth of 6% this year, given the lack of compelling catalysts in the near term. UOB Kay Hian Research said net profit grew 9.8% in 2017, adding that the Reit sector growth in 2018 should come mainly from Axis Reit, as it will recognise the contribution of Axis Mega development. The performance of mass retail malls remains challenging this year, as rental reversions continued to be subdued in Q417. For office REITs, the office glut issue was far from over and that rental reversions would continue to be at risk. Hotel REITs, meanwhile, did not show much improvement during the quarter as the industry is still struggling with lacklustre demand. (The Star Online)

Unsold homes in Malaysia rise to decade high in 2017
Unsold residential properties in Malaysia rose to their highest in a decade last year as lofty prices and a lack of affordable housing dampened purchases, said Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM). A supply-demand mismatch and slower income growth had led to a housing affordability issue. The mismatch brought the level of total unsold residential properties to a decade-high 146,497 units as of the second quarter of 2017, an increase from 130,690 units in the first quarter. The central bank said that from 2007 to 2016, house prices grew 9.8% while household income only rose 8.3%. Additionally, new housing supply had been skewed towards the higher-end property segment since 2012. (Reuters)

Naza TTDI targets RM745mil sales this year
Naza TTDI Sdn Bhd, which recorded its best performance in five years recently with sales of RM815 million, is lowering the target this year, amid weak consumer sentiments. The company is targeting RM745 million in sales from several projects in the Klang Valley this year, which include the Met 1 component in KL Metropolis; an en-bloc office tower, and the mixed-use TTDI Sentralis development in Shah Alam. The company will also be launching TTDI Ayana, its latest residential development in Selangor, at Kwasa Damansara, in the third or fourth quarter this year. (NST Online)

Sunway Bhd with partners buy RM1.59bil property in Singapore
Sunway Bhd, together with Hoi Hup Realty Pte Ltd and SC Wong Pte Ltd, is buying a property in Singapore for S$530 million (RM1.59 billion) to redevelop it into a private residential project. A joint venture will be set up for the acquisition with Hoi Hup, Sunway Developments and SC Wong on a proportion of 60:30:10. The cost of investment in the joint venture is estimated to be about S$70 million or about RM210 million. The property, Brookvale Park, is located on 999-year leasehold land in Clementi, Singapore and is currently a 160-unit private residential estate with a land area of 34,654 square metres. (NST Online)

Damansara Realty targets 15% top-line growth on return to black
Damansara Realty Bhd – which has just returned to the black in FY17 – expects to sustain its earnings growth momentum in FY18, and targets a top-line growth of up to 15% year-on-year. The group is eyeing several contracts under its integrated facilities management (IFM) division this year, which offers various services including catering, maintenance and operations, cleaning and security, parking and logistics services, medical facility services, landscaping and hotel management. Amid the generally lacklustre local property market, the company’s property division will not be very aggressive, adding that any potential launches in 2018 will depend on the performance of its current developments. (The Edge Markets)

Platinum Victory to launch condo project in Setapak
Property developer Platinum Victory Holdings Sdn Bhd is set to launch its first property project for the year – PV18 Residence in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur – next month. The high-rise residential development on 2.25ha of leasehold land along Jalan Langkawi, next to Danau Kota Lake, has a GDV of RM600mil and consists of two 40-storey blocks. Platinum Victory aims to launch projects with a GDV of RM2bil this year. Other projects in the pipeline are Platinum OUG at Bukit OUG, PV9 Melati at Setapak and Platinum Arena in Jalan Kelang Lama. (The Star Online)

PV18 will be Platinum Victory’s first launch in 2018 (Photo from The Star)

Pavilion’s Desmond Lim eyeing Subang Skypark
Property magnate Tan Sri Desmond Lim is allegedly planning to buy a 60% stake in Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd with intentions to redevelop the land surrounding Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang, where the company has a long sub-lease concession agreement with Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) to operate its city airport terminal and integrated commercial and business aviation hub. Lim is said to be earmarking parcels within the site for low-rise development such as malls. (The Edge Markets)

Cuepacs urges govt to waive GST for civil servants buying first home
The Congress of Unions of Employees in Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) has urged the government to exempt the Goods and Services Tax (GST) for the purchase of the first house by civil servants. “We also hope the government will build more affordable homes priced less than RM150,000 as well as GST exemption on building materials for the construction of the first house for civil servants,” said its president, Datuk Azih Muda. Azih also asked the government to review the quit rent rate, especially in Putrajaya which was said to be quite high, to help ease the burden of civil servants. (Malay Mail Online)

Singapore planning to raise sales tax to 9% in 2021-2025
Singapore has announced it plans to raise its sale tax to 9% from 7%, but said the change will be only be made ”sometime” between 2021 and 2025. The country’s Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been at 7% since 2007. A hike in GST was widely expected as Singapore has to increase social spending to meet the needs of its rapidly ageing population. Increasing the GST by two percentage points will provide the government revenue of almost 0.7% of GDP per year. Singapore introduced its GST in 1994, with a 3% rate. (The Star Online)