Malaysia: Matrade to focus on ‘iconic’ events

KUALA LUMPUR: Exporters are going to find it challenging given the expected slowdown in global trade volume in 2012, but the trade promotion agency will focus on iconic events which will have a “lasting” impact on Malaysian brands.

The Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) plans to undertake more than 120 export promotion activities this year.
They include participation in international trade fairs, specialised marketing missions, promotion booths, In-Coming Buying Missions and joint promotion activities.

There will also be three “big” exhibitions — Malaysia International Halal Showcase (Mihas), Malaysia Services Exhibition (MSE) and International Trade Malaysia (Intrade).

Matrade will also promote high-value products and services for industries, which are also given priorities under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and the National Key Economic Areas .

These industries include healthcare and environmental products and services, oil and gas, biotech and halal and machinery, transportation and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).
Apart from its efforts to internationalise Malaysian companies through various programmes, Matrade also organises and manage participation for Malaysian exporters in international trade exhibitions overseas, which serve as a good starting point.

Unlike the past, Matrade focuses on iconic international trade events overseas to create greater long-term impact for branding of Malaysia’s products and services.

These include Arab Health in the UAE and 17th Gulf Food held in January, CeBIT in Germany (in March), Hannover Fair (in May), Showcase Malaysia India (in October) and the China Asean Expo (in October).

In the case of the China Asean Expo, Matrade chief executive officer Dr Wong Sai Lum said Malaysia as the Country of Honour last year brought the largest delegation and promoted its capabilities and expertise in the services sector such as environmental services, healthcare, education and professional services.

In terms of sales, Malaysian exporters recorded encouraging growth in immediate sales compared to Caexpo 2010, securing actual sales of RM86.53 million during the course of the five-day exhibition and RM115.36 in potential sales.

Total sales recorded at the end of the five-day event was RM202 million. For the services sector, the outcomes were very encouraging.

A Malaysian legal firm, CW Loh, signed a memorandum of understanding with the largest legal firm in Guangxi Province, Guangxi Tongwang another MOU was signed between INTI University and Guangxi College involving a “3+1+1” programme.”

Malaysian franchise Nelson’s secured 10 new franchisees at last year’s event.
Mihas is also successful and one of the key reasons is the number of pre-selected foreign buyers, numbering over 500 on average every year.

Sales at Incoming Buying Mission during Mihas generated some RM7 billion since 2005 until 2011.

Its efforts to expand market share in fast growing and emerging markets will continue although the eurozone sovereign debt crisis still hovers.

The growing affluence of neighbouring Indonesia has led to increased demand for machinery to support its rapid growth of investments.

Likewise, Bangladesh has become more demand  driven as the economy benefits from the high remittances. Nigeria has also been identified as an important market and the agency plans to start an office in Lagos soon. It has also targeted Turkey, which is recognised as an important gateway to eastern Europe and African markets.

“We have developed a strategy and looked across the world and where our strengths are and action plans which open doors which can sustain our presence.

“In some instances we look for niche demand,” Wong said.
Matrade is selective with the activities and limits large delegations to select events so that Malaysians can look to value creation in products instead of herd instinct.

It prefers to use its overseas network to enable potential business partners to interface via videoconferencing.
To add to the current portfolio of products, Malaysia now also has new products like medical devices.

Through the EPPs, Matrade is also helping to find markets for those in niche products such as electro diagnostic equipment, surgical theatre lights, spectrometer, oscilloscope — scientific research in labs.

These efforts are already beginning to pay off and has raised the confidence level for the bold few who continue to be aggressive despite the headwinds.”