Malaysia ranks 4th in Cost of Doing Business Index

Malaysia is ranked fourth among seventeen economies in an assessment comparing the economy’s competitiveness as a manufacturing hub, outperforming others in the region such as China, Japan, Vietnam and India, according to a recent study by KPMG. “Malaysia is one of the most promising countries [to be a prime manufacturing hub for investors despite uncertainties in the current landscape],” Datuk Johan Idris, managing partner of KPMG in Malaysia, said. The joint study by KPMG and The Manufacturing Institute in the US provides a current assessment of how the manufacturing sector in the US compares in competitiveness to its main trading partners. The study indicates that Malaysia ranked at the top of the chart, tied with China, Mexico and Vietnam in terms of the Primary Cost Index, which the country had outperformed on three factors: hourly compensation costs, real estate costs and corporate tax rates. On the Secondary Cost Index, however, the study shows that Malaysia is ranked at 11th, among the 17 countries. (The Edge)

Seremban district placed under CMCO from Nov 5-18

Seremban district in Negeri Sembilan will be placed under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) beginning Wednesday (Nov 4) until 18. Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said it covers nine sub-districts, namely Ampangan, Seremban, Seremban town, Labu, Rantau, Rasah, Setul, Pantai and Lenggeng. “The same standard operating procedures (SOPs) for CMCO, as previously announced, will apply,” he said. Movement in and out of the area was not allowed except for emergencies or with approval from the police. Only two people from a household are allowed to travel in order to purchase necessities and high risk people and children are not encouraged to be present in open and crowded areas. Ismail Sabri added that all forms of social and cultural activities are not to be carried out and dine-ins at restaurants are only permitted for two to four people to a table. All schools, higher education institutes, skills training institutes, kindergartens, nurseries and tahfiz centres are to remain closed. Malaysia registered 1,054 new Covid-19 cases today, bringing its tally of infections to 34,393, including 10,135 active cases. (Bernama)

Tenant drop-out an emerging risk for REITs

Tenant drop-out is likely to be an emerging risk for retail mall owners, said CGS-CIMB Research. Its analyst Sharizan Rosely said in a note the shutting down of Robinson Co (Malaya) Sdn Bhd highlighted that the risk of tenant drop-out in retail malls is higher for departmental stores, which he deemed the biggest loser amidst Covid-19. He also said the temporary shutdowns of cinemas suggested that the decline in footfall or tenant sales in October during the conditional movement control order (CMCO) period has a greater impact on non-essential tenants. “Our preliminary assessment or checks on retail malls since the reinstatement of the CMCO is that footfall and tenants’ sales could decline by 20% to 30% in 4Q20, and concerns about potential tenant drop-outs could grow if the deterioration in tenant sales is prolonged,” said Sharizan. However, he retained his “neutral” stance on REITs, with longer lead times for replacement tenants a new and emerging risk for selected malls. (The Edge)

Malaysia’s land transactional activity up significantly in 3Q

The Savills Asia-Pacific Investment Quarterly Q3/2020 (third quarter of 2020) report revealed that Malaysia’s land transactional activity increased significantly in the period despite an economy impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and continued political uncertainty. The total transaction value rose by 70% year-on-year (y-o-y) to a total of RM2 billion. The largest deal in the reviewed quarter was the acquisition of two parcels of land in the Kamena Land District of Bintulu, Sarawak by Sarawak Economic Development Corp (SEDC) for RM340 million. The land will be used for the development of a petrochemical hub in the region. In the report, Savills expected activity to be healthy, moving forward, driven by the industrial sector, which alone accounted for RM780 million worth of transactions. Besides Malaysia, other countries such as Australia, China, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand were highlighted in the report. (The Edge)

Polls start to close in tense US presidential election

Polls in US battleground states began to close Tuesday, inching the contest between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden to its nail-biting conclusion, following a race fought in unprecedented conditions of a global pandemic and the most deeply divided electorate in decades. What was not expected immediately was a definitive verdict on whether Trump gets another four years or Biden pushes him out of the White House. Barring upsets in key states, that may not happen until all the swing states have counted their ballots – something that in the case of Pennsylvania could easily drag on at least into Wednesday. Counting this year has been slowed by the unprecedented use of mail-in ballots in response to fears of the coronavirus. More than 100 million Americans had already cast votes before Election Day. Fears of Covid-19 drove the huge flow of early voters, encouraged by Biden. Trump has countered by holding dozens of mass election rallies with no social distancing, underlining his message that it’s time to move on. Roughly one-third of the Senate is up for grabs and Republicans risk losing their 53-47 majority. (NST Online)

(Image source: The New York Times)