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Exporters Get Tips On How To Thwart Impact Of Rising Ringgit

PULAU PINANG, May 22 - Local exporters were urged today to
upgrade product design and research in order to maintain and expand their
hold in overseas markets in the wake of the ringgit's continued
strengthening against the U.S. dollar.

The Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, Ng Lip Yong, said
other factors they can exploit to be more competitive include raising
productivity and reducing production costs.

Noting that not all businesses have been affected by the stronger ringgit,
he said they should focus more on developing their competitiveness rather
than only make use of currency valuation to market overseas their products
and services.

Speaking to reporters after opening a seminar and dialogue here on foreign
workers, he expressed confidence that the stronger ringgit won't have an
adverse impact on Malaysia's export performance because the local currency
has risen only against the greenback while its value against regional
currencies remain largely steady.

At midday today, the ringgit was 3.39 to the U.S. dollar.

On foreign workers, Ng said local companies must wean from their
over-dependence on foreign labour to improve their productivity and
instead go for increased use of robotic technology.

He pointed out that under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, soft loans totalling
RM300 million are available for automation and modernisation.

Although the government has made it easier for foreigners to be employed,
he said industries must make efforts to take in fewer of them, adding that
there are now more than 1.8 million foreign workers, about 600,000 in the
manufacturing sector.

Ng said that other than automation, other steps to ease this
over-dependence include improving their work environment to make it more
condusive to locals.

"They can also introduce flexible job qualifications and appropriate
wages," he added.


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