Asean countries are on track for progressive liberalisation of trade within the region, covering 128 sub-sectors via the Asean Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS).
The liberalisation will boost the services sector’s contribution to the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) from the current 40% to 50%, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
He said AFAS will be a platform for services providers to take advantage of the market openings as well as to benefit from new ideas and processes arising out of the opening of the services sector.
Efforts has been put into concluding the AFAS 10th package by year-end to provide wider and better opportunities for members in tapping the benefits of the services sector,” he said in his opening address at the inaugural Asean Service Provider Confederation (ASPC) meeting yesterday.
His speech was read by Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) CEO Datuk Dzulkifli Mahmud. Last year, Asean services sector was valued at US$2.3 trillion (RM9.96 trillion).
In a press conference, Dzulkifli said the government had allocated RM300 million to encourage overseas expansion of local service providers.
He said incentives provided by Matrade under the fund, included feasibility study grant of up to RM3 million, overseas office set up of up to RM150,000 per country, and soft loans with low interest rate through the Malaysian Industrial Development Finance Bhd.
Among the services being focused under the facility are ICT, maintenance, repair and overhaul, electrical and electronic, legal business and logistics.
The ASPC is a private sector initiative to facilitate intraAsean trade in the services sector and secure Asean’s place in the global services economy.
The organisation brought together business organisations to discuss service issues needed to be addressed by the Asean member states.