KUALA LUMPUR, 12th February, 2016 (WAM) — Malaysia’s trade is likely to grow by two per cent in 2016 amid the challenging economic environment, said Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed.

He said the growth would be supported by the government focus on trade in the ASEAN market.

“Among our focus will be ASEAN nations. ASEAN is the largest trading region which contributes significantly to Malaysia’s total trade,” he told reporters after launching the “Generation of New Exporters” programme here Thursday.

In 2015, Malaysia’s total trade grew by 1.2 per cent to reach US$355.49 billion (RM1.466 trillion, US$1 = RM4.12), compared to RM1.448 trillion in the previous year, while exports rose by 1.9 per cent to reach RM779.95 billion and the trade surplus went up 14 per cent.

“We hope to be able to maintain this. We also have been able to increase exports under quite challenging circumtances and we have been able to increase trade surpluses,” he said as quoted by Malaysian news agency, Bernama.

Mustapa said the government plans to increase the number of export-ready Bumiputera entrepreneurs via programmes under Young Entrepreneur Organisation Malaysia (GMB).

“We will ask them to increase programmes to help boost the country’s exports for 2016 and 2017,” he added.

GenEx, a specialised programme to help spur Bumiputera youth entrepreneurs’ export ventures, is a collaboration between the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), the national trade promotion agency and GMB.

GMB will be scouting 100 youth-owned companies in Malaysia to be GenEX participants, said MATRADE Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dzulkifli Mahmud.

He added that of the 100 companies, 30 will stand a chance to start exporting their products and services to five countries — the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, the Netherlands and Qatar.