DFTZ pilot project generates RM52.1m sales

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on April 10, 2018.
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SEPANG: The Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) pilot project has gained traction, with about 70 small and medium manufacturers participating in the DFTZ Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Onboarding Programme under its e-trade zone.

The first phase of the regional logistics hub, which was launched in March last year, has generated a total sales of RM52.1 million with exports amounting to RM18.1 million since November last year, according to International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

He said to date, the number of SMEs participating in the DFTZ SME Onboarding Programme has increased to 2,651 from 1,970 in November last year.

“It has been a big increase. Our target now is to achieve 10,000 SMEs by the end of this year,” he told a press conference to give updates on the DFTZ pilot project after a visit to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Air-Cargo Terminal 1 yesterday.

Mustapa said his ministry, Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC), SME Corp and Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) will focus on encouraging more SMEs to be involved in the DFTZ to make great strides in further boosting Malaysia’s e-commerce growth.

He said this will not be limited to the alibaba.com platform, but also through other e-marketplaces such as Amazon, eBay, Qoo10 and local e-marketplaces like Dagang Halal, Aladdin Street and BuyMalaysia.

“These will provide more choices in terms of cost and market access for SMEs to fully enjoy the benefits of DFTZ. There have been a lot of promotions done by MDEC and Matrade.

“DFTZ is an important project by Malaysia, it is going to be a game changer to lift fortune of the SMEs throughout the country.

“The recent announcement of RM50 million to execute the Wira eDagang DFTZ initiative for the next three years will encourage more bumiputera e-commerce companies to come on board to compete globally,” he said.

At the same time, Mustapa said the DFTZ is in line with Barisan Nasional (BN) manifesto to create a total of one million digital entrepreneurs within five years.

“In BN manifesto which was announced recently, digital economy is an important feature. We should monitor this DFTZ progress on a monthly basis.

“The focus has to be on quality, numbers are important but we want to focus on quality products. There is a lot of training that needs to be done to make sure we reach the level of expertise especially in terms of the response time and quality of product,” he added.

MDEC chief executive officer Datuk Yasmin Mahmood said the ultimate objective of this DFTZ was to help the SMEs go global. “There is a momentum right now about SMEs going online. We keep telling our SMEs and entrepreneurs out there that digital is the way forward.”

This year, the government is planning to expand the DFTZ beyond KLIA to include all modes of connectivity namely sea, land and rail, with Port Klang and the Penang and Senai airports identified as priority areas for expansion.

Also present was Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd managing director Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, who said the group has allocated RM800 million of its capital expenditure to build infrastructure, facilities, system and equipment for the 32.42ha KLIA Aeropolis DFTZ, which is slated to be fully operational in the third quarter of 2020.

To date, the KLIA Aeropolis DFTZ Park is 20% completed.