By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS
The Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) is optimistic on achieving its target sales of RM450 million at the upcoming 15th China- Asean Expo (CAEXPO), amid the government’s cautious stance towards trade relations with China.
Matrade Exports Promotion and Market Access division senior director Mohd Mustafa Abd Aziz (picture) said the confidence is based on China’s already established position as Malaysia’s largest trading partner for the last nine years.
In 2017, Malaysia’s total trade with China was RM290.65 billion, a growth of 20.6% compared to the RM240.71 billion achieved in 2016.
Trade with China for the first half of 2018 also expanded by 7.1% to RM149.18 billion.
The growth is recorded despite Malaysia’s new government post-election pledge to review some of the mega projects backed by China.
“There are issues that need to be addressed at political levels. Yes, the projects are under review, but it is a matter of discussing and negotiating what is right for Malaysia,” he told reporters after a briefing on CAEXPO in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He added that he does not foresee any issue with trade because of the project reviews as the main purpose will be to expand exports using the expo as a platform.
“The expo is just one of the platforms that are currently being used to create and acknowledge the demand for local products from China.
“The high level visits by our politicians will definitely make a difference in terms of economic relationships, so we will remain optimistic,” Mohd Mustafa said.
He added that under the stewardship of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, relations between both countries will continue to grow and expand.
“There is an aggressive approach in terms of promo- ting investments and exports for our economy. Our prime minister had led the country for 22 years previously. He knows what he is doing.
“Plus with all the fresh blood and new ideas from the newly formed government, Malaysia will be placed in its rightful position,” Mohd Mustafa said.
CAEXPO will be held from Sept 12 till Sept 15 at the Nanning International Convention and Exhibition Centre this year.
The Malaysian Pavilion will feature 174 companies occupying 180 booths, consisting of products from the food and beverage, health and wellness, lifestyles and services sectors as well as governmental agencies.
Matrade said they identified CAEXPO as an import strategy to enable local small and medium enterprises to promote and brand their products and services in China.
Mohd Mustafa said the response from companies were overwhelming with 330 companies applying to join the delegation.
“Some were not qualified for certain reasons. But we have criteria to follow. For instance, if the companies had the capacity to cater to the demand; and if they were reliable. The 174 that were accepted fell into those clusters,” he said.
Apart from the trade exhibition, the other component of the delegation will be the launching of City of Charm — Sarawak.
“Sarawak will be promoted for its tourism as well as e-commerce during this visit,” Mohd Mustafa said.