Malaysian’ Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) Perceived Challenges Associated to Internationalisation Activity: A Reflection on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

  • Chu-Le Chong
  • Poh-Chuin Teo
  • Theresa C. F. Ho
  • Chew-Keong Wai
  • Mui-Yin Chin


The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that launched by the Chinese government has gained the attention of the world since the introduction of it by President Xi Jinping in 2013. Regardless the promising associated economic and non-economic related benefit, this Initiative gas also been regarded as something of a double-edged sword, which potentially presents risks caused by the poor economic fundamentals and weak domestic institutions of their major participating countries due to high debt burdens involving in fiscal risks. This cross-sectional study aimed to examine the perceived challenges of Malaysian Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs), particularly on their internationalisation activities associated with the BRI. Interestingly, both perceived financial and non-financial challenges are pretty huge. Hence, implications of study have been discussed and suggestions are provided to both policy makers and market practitioners. The discussion of this paper ended with research limitations and recommendations for future studies.


Careem, N.(2017). Is Beijing's grand strategy benefiting smaller companies? Viewed on 11 February 2020, available at
Crick, D. (2007), "SMEs' Barriers Towards Internationalisation and Assistance Requirements in the UK”, Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, 20 (3), 233-244.
Daszkiewicz, N. and Wach,K. (2012). Internationalization of SMEs: Context, models and implementation. Gdańsk University of Technology Publishers.
Eurobiz (2019). Belt and road initiative: business opportunities and challenges for european SMEs. Viewed on 11 February 2020, available at
European Commission (2007). Supporting the internationalisation of SMEs: Final Report of the Expert Group. Brussels: European Commission Enterprise and Industry Directorate-General.
Bruschi, D., Garcia, D. A., Gugliermetti, F. & Cumo, F.(2015). Characterizing the Fragmentation Level of Italy’s National Parks Due to Transportation Infrastructures. Transportation Research. Part D Transport and Environment, 36, 18–28
Helsingen, H., B., Milligan, M. D., & Bhagabati, N. (2018). Greening China’s Belt & Road Initiative in Myanmar. Yangon, Myanmar: World Wildlife Fund.
Khin, A. A., Chiun, F. Y., & Seong, L. C. (2019). Identifying the Factors of the Successful Implementation of Belt and Road Initiative on Small–Medium Enterprises in Malaysia. China Report, 55(4), 345–363.
Khoo, C.S.(2010). The success stories of Malaysian SMEs in promoting and penetrating global markets through business. Asia Research Centre, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark.
Laghzaoui, S.(2011). SMEs' internationalisation: an analysis with the concept of resources and competencies. Journal of Innovation Economics and Management, Vol.1, No. 7, pp.181-196.
Lee, J.(2013). SME masterplan set to boost sector's growth. The Star. Viewed on 10 February 2020, available at
Lee, J. (2018). SMEs Need to Look at Export Market. The Star Online. smebiz/2018/05/21/smes-need-to-look-at-export-market/
Mahajar, A.J. and Hashim, M.K. (2002). Exporting problems of Malaysian SMEs: A recent survey. Jurnal Strategi Bisnis, Vol. 8, pp. 70-82.
Milesi, D., Moori, V., Robert, V. and Yoguel, G. (2007). Developing competitive advantages: successful export SMEs in Argentina, Chile and Colombia. Cepal Review, 92 (August), pp. 25-43.
Ministry of International Trade and Industry, MITI. (2019). Malaysia Trade in Goods. Viewed on 11 February 2020, available at
MATRADE (2018). MATRADE's incentives for the services sector. Viewed on 10 February 2020, available at
OECD (2009). Top barriers and drivers to SME internationalization. Report by the OECD working party on SMEs and entrepreneurship, OECD.
Orser, B., Spence, M., Riding, A. and Carrington, C. (2008). Canadian SME exporters. Tefler School of Management, University of Ottawa and Small Business Policy Branch of Industry Canada, Government of Canada.
Rahayu, Rita, and Day, John. 2015. ‘Determinant Factors of E-commerce Adoption by SMEs in Developing Country: Evidence from Indonesia’. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, Vol. 195, 142–50
Saffu, K, Walker, J. H., & Mazurek, M. (2012). Perceived Strategic Value and e-Commerce Adoption among SMEs in Slovakia. Journal of Internet Commerce, 11, 1-23.
Senik, Z.C., Isa, R.M., Sham, R.M and Ayob, A.H. (2014). A model for understanding SMEs internationalization in emerging economies. Jurnal Pengurusan 41, pp. 25-42.
Sinkovicsa, R. R., Kurt, Y., & Sinkovicsa, N. (2018). The Effect of Matching on Perceived Export Barriers and Performance in an Era of Globalization Discontents: Empirical Evidence from UK SMEs. International Business Review, 27,1065-1079.
SME Corp Malaysia (2019). Internationalization of SMEs. Viewed on 10 February 2010, available at
The World Bank. (2019). Belt and Road Economics Opportunities and Risks of Transport Corridors. Washington, DC: World Bank. Viewed on 12 February 2020, available at
United Nations Development Programme. (2020). Belt and Road Initiative. viewed on 20 January 2020, available at
Xinhua (2019). BRI may help SMEs tackle global trade challenges: ITC head. Viewed on 11 February 2020, available at
Zhang, L.W.(2018). Opportunities outweigh challenges for SMEs investment in BRI: experts. Viewed on 11 February 2020, available at
How to Cite
CHONG, Chu-Le et al. Malaysian’ Small and Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) Perceived Challenges Associated to Internationalisation Activity: A Reflection on the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). International Journal of Advanced Research in Economics and Finance, [S.l.], v. 2, n. 2, p. 27-34, june 2020. ISSN 2682-812X. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 11 aug. 2020.