KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 (Bernama) -- At least 1,500 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are expected to come on board the newly-launched Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) in 2018, says Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Chua Tee Yong.

The DFTZ was jointly launched on Nov 3 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Alibaba Founder Jack Ma with 1,972 SMEs.

"We encourage more SMEs to use the DFTZ as a platform to trade their products as it will shorten documentation and clearance processes and enable them to have a bigger global reach," he told reporters after launching the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) International Conference 2017 here today.

Chua said MIA could assume an important role in providing value-added services by advising SMEs to improve themselves in terms of products, growth and expansion activities.

"They could encourage these owners to contact relevant agencies to help them in terms of export," he said.

Earlier in his speech, Chua said Malaysia was clearly abreast of the digitalisation trend with an allocation of RM245 million under Budget 2018 for companies to adopt smart manufacturing concept.

"Going digital is critical to ensure that Malaysia becomes a more competitive nation and to heighten trade and investment.

"In moving forward to attain the Top 20 nation status, as charted in the TN50 initiative, businesses have to keep abreast of latest developments and embrace upcoming mega trends such as globalisation, digital future, industrial revolution 4.0 and the rise of entrepreneurship," he added.

Themed, "Expanding Horizons, Be Future Relevant", the two-day conference attracted 3,000 delegates from commerce and industry, public sector, public practice and the academia. -- BERNAMA

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