The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) wants local companies to gear up and look at the Asean Economic Community (AEC) next year as a platform to tap new opportunities to add value to
their businesses.

Deputy Minister Datuk Hamim Samuri said they should look at the AEC as well as Asean integration with East Asia countries positively to create an integrated market and production base.

"This would enable companies in the region to operate on a bigger scale, be competitive and efficient," he said in his speech at the monthly meeting between MITI and its agencies here today.

He said the size of the Malaysian market, which at present is less than 30 million people, is only about five per cent of the Asean market.

"Hence, the business community need to make Asean as the market that is viable in order to expand their operation as well as local production," said Hamim.

As chairman of Asean next year, he said Malaysia was ready to face the integration, however it needed the support from the rakyat especially the business community.

"At the MITI level, we are making efforts to disseminate related information as well as awareness to the community on the role of Asean to help them understand it.

"We will also organise an Asean SME Showcase and Conference on May 26-28 next year with the cooperation of SME Corporation Malaysia," he said.

Meanwhile, he said the Asean integration had succeeded in increasing the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) by 7.3 per cent to US$114.1 billion in 2013 from US$122.4 billion in 2012.

"With this achievement, we expect future prospects to be better with more FDI inflow in various sectors including infrastructure, finance and manufacturing.

"The intra-Asean FDI also recorded improvement, reaching US$21.3 billion in 2013, which was 17.4 per cent out of the amount of FDI inflow into Asean," he added.