THE government has identified high-impact industries, such as smart agriculture, aerospace, electronics, medical services, hardware, tourism, oil and gas, and biotechnology, where small and medium enterprises (SMEs) can collaborate with larger companies to bolster global competitiveness.

SME Corp Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok (picture) said by doing this, SMEs will be able to navigate competitive environments and achieve business growth through knowledge and skill acquisition, technology upgrading and innovation.

SMEs comprise 97.4% of business establishments, with 1.2 million contributing massively to both the GDP and exports.

The SME sector added RM580.4 billion to the GDP and RM144.5 billion to exports, employing 7.59 million individuals in 2020.

Bernard said the recent Malaysian SME National Conference played a pivotal role in uniting business stakeholders to tackle challenges and enhance SME integration into the global supply chain and exports.

“The pandemic brought severe challenges to SMEs, such as reduced demand and supply chain disruptions.

“However, government support measures facilitated a remarkable recovery, with SMEs achieving an 11.6% growth in 2022, rebounding from a 0.73% decline in 2020,” he said to the media at the conference.

He noted that SMEs’ weak linkages to the global value chain remains the significant obstacle, highlighted by a 2023 survey revealing only 20.8% of SMEs supply products and services to large firms domestically.

“Despite such challenges, SMEs are important in fortifying a resilient supply chain ecosystem and supporting targeted industry growth.

“Hence, the government aims to bolster the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development through SME Corp Malaysia to integrate SMEs into the global supply chain and enhance their international trade participation,” he added.

Two key focus areas which have been identified are promoting value chains in high-impact industries and facilitating SME internationalisation.

“SME Corp Malaysia remains committed to empowering SMEs to stay competitive through scalable business cooperation and a framework was recently developed to enhance SME sustainability, including the publication of an ESG (environmental, social and governance) Quick Guide for SMEs,” Bernard said.