US-ASEAN Business Council Welcomes Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry, Announces Collaboration on SME Workshop in Kuala Lumpur

(Washington, DC) – The US-ASEAN Business Council, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, hosted an off-the-record luncheon roundtable with Minister of International Trade and Industry and Member of Parliament, Darell Leiking.  At the roundtable with Minister Leiking, a Q2 workshop for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) was announced, which will be conducted in close collaboration between Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and the Council in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

“SMEs are the backbone of every national economy and enhancing their capabilities to engage in cross border trading activities is a critical part of ASEAN’s current trade policy dynamism and a fundamental element to the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC),” said Marc Mealy, Senior Vice President of Policy at the US-ASEAN Business Council. “SMEs account for more than 96 percent of all enterprises in ASEAN, contribute substantially to ASEAN GDP and employ over half of ASEAN’s workforce.  The Council and its members are eager to support SMEs in this upcoming workshop, as a part our ongoing Business Alliance for Competitive SMEs programming.”

It has been eight years since the US-ASEAN Business Council Institute established a training program for SMEs in response to a request by the ASEAN Economic Minister (AEM).  And since 2014, the Council has already conducted around 43 SME Workshops in ASEAN countries.

As a part of the Council’s SME programming, the Q2 SME workshop in Kuala Lumpur, titled “The Potential of Industry 4.0 for Malaysian SMEs,” aims to further U.S. private sector commitment in supporting the Malaysian Government's National Policy on Industry 4.0, or "Industry4WRD," especially in strengthening SMEs. 

The Council and MITI will bring key stakeholders together at this workshop.  The MITI and related Malaysian agencies, such as the Ministry of Entrepreneurship Development (MED), SME Corp, Malaysia External Trade Development Cooperation (MATRADE) will be present.  In addition, around 250 SME owners and senior executives from Kuala Lumpur and neighboring cities are expected to join this workshop as well as senior-level dignitaries and government officials from the U.S. Embassy, and trade associations such as the SME Association of Malaysia, the Malaysian Association for ASEAN Young Entrepreneurs, the National Association of Women Entrepreneurs of Malaysia and the Federation of Women Entrepreneur Association Malaysia.

Knowledge sharing sessions from U.S. companies and local partners on topics such as digital transformation for SMEs, inclusive Global Value Chain, customer acquisition, regional e-commerce market access and digital payment systems are designed to increase Malaysian SMEs' competitiveness.  The workshop will also feature company-specific consultation session to allow SMEs to interact closely and consult to find solutions for their day-to-day entrepreneurial challenges.

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For 35 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's membership, more than 160 companies, generate over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people globally. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.