Kuala Lumpur, Feb 16 Asia Pulse - Small and medium scale industries (SMIs) need to respond proactively to new competitive tools, including electronic commerce (e-commerce), Deputy Finance Minister Chan Kong Choy said Wednesday.
"Those who do so early will have a head start over the laggards," he said at the media launch of an e-commerce road show here, adding that those who failed to respond might even become an "endangered species". Chan said one of the lessons learnt from the recent financial crisis was that industries which were export oriented had weathered the recession well and in fact, grew in strength.
"This is especially more critical as the deadlines for the implementation of the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) and the fast track liberalisation of Apec member countries draw near," he added. He said SMIs should grab export opportunities provided by e-commerce as the transaction transmitted over the internet did not recognise national borders.
"The world is therefore the market place for e-commerce practitioners." Chan explained that e-commerce was creating new industries and business opportunities for many people since it was expected to exceed US$1.4 trillion (RM5.32 trillion) globally within the next three years.
In Malaysia, he said International Data Corporation (IDC) had projected e-commerce revenue at some US$1 billion (RM3.8 billion) on the forecast of 2.2 million internet users by 2001. He also said under the Seventh Malaysia Plan, a RM200-million fund had been allocated to assist MSC-status small and medium size enterprises, that were majority-owned by Malaysians, in conducting research and development. So far, RM15.9 million from the fund, known as the MSC Grant Scheme, had been given to nine companies.
As for the roadshow, he said it was aimed at acquainting the SMIs to e-commerce as well as making them literate in the area of information technology. To be held from March 4 to May 6, Chan said the roadshow would be conducted in Bahasa Melayu, English and Mandarin at 16 locations to reach out to as many SMIs as possible. The roadshow is jointly organised by Telekom Malaysia and the SMI Association of Malaysia. Telekom Malaysia Bhd, the national telecommunications company, has designed an e-commerce package for SMIs in the country. This package allows SMIs to enjoy e-commerce capability at very competitive rates.