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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 (Bernama) — The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) needs to build an ecosystem that supports enterprise creation and improves the environment for innovation, as well as facilitates financial inclusion for start-ups, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Ahmad Maslan said.

He said Malaysia recognises the vital role of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in bringing new ideas to the market and fostering innovation.

Ahmad highlighted Malaysia’s initiatives for modernisation and automation of MSMEs, including focusing on the Soft Loan Scheme for Automation & Modernisation (SLSAM).

SLSAM seeks to encourage MSMEs in Malaysia to embrace automation and modernisation of their businesses.

“We further applaud the Philippines for putting the MSMEs at the forefront of its priorities this year, and we fully support the ‘APEC Iloilo Initiative’ which complements the ‘Boracay Action Agenda’ in promoting conducive policy, business and regulatory environments that foster the long-term growth of MSMEs.

“We recognise that local development plans and enterprise clusters also contribute greatly to enhancing productivity, innovation and inclusive growth,” he said in a statement.

Ahmad represented Malaysia at the 22nd APEC Small and Medium Enterprises Ministerial Meeting (SMEMM) on Sept 25 in the Philippines.

The SMEMM also announced that an online-based, interactive portal to help small and medium enterprises (SMEs) promote collaboration linkages for businesses in the APCE member countries would be developed soon.

The portal would also improve mechanisms for knowledge sharing on trade facilitation, business support, partnerships and capacity building activities among the MSMEs.

MSMEs make up over 97 per cent of all enterprises and generate more than 70 per cent of all jobs in the APEC region.

APEC economies taking part in the SMEMM account for more than 76 per cent of Malaysia’s external trade and 54 per cent of foreign direct investment.

E-commerce is another avenue to grow businesses, and both Malaysian and Chinese SMEs are taking advantage of it.

THE 12th China-Asean Expo (Caexpo) in Nanning, Guangxi province concluded on Monday (Sept 21), after four days of trading and business matching.

A billboard near the venue advertised: “You are just one handshake away from the market of 1.9 billion people,” referring to the combined pop­u­lation of 1.3 billion from China and 620 million from 10 Asean cou­ntries.

The Malaysian pavilion was the busiest at the Caexpo.

Visitors thronged the hall for the food and beverages, health and wellness products, lifestyle products and other services offered by the exhibitors.

While goods changed hands and meetings between potential partners took place under the Jalur Gemilang hanging from the hall ceiling, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were encouraged to give e-commerce a try.

International Trade and Industry Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, who opened the Malaysian pavilion, said the booming of e-commerce is another round of industrial revolution.

“The first stage of industrial revolution created factories in Europe while the second created companies in the United States,” he said.

“Now, commodities are marketed through e-commerce, expanding trade volume tremendously.”

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Ma­trade), the coordinator of Mal­aysia’s participation at Caexpo, emp­hasised e-commerce as another avenue to grow businesses.

With 649 million Internet users, China is the largest e-commerce market in the world, recording US$420bil (RM1.8 trillion) of online retail sales last year.

Noting that the level of e-commerce adoption among SMEs still needed to be further boosted, Matrade deputy chief executive officer Susila Devi said Matrade has rolled out an e-Trade programme to assist them to establish an online presence.

“You don’t have to travel across the border. If you are engaged in e-commerce, your business is open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year,” she said.

China’s largest e-commerce company Alibaba is the first to collaborate with Matrade for B2B (Business to Business) transactions.

SMEs can also explore B2C (Business to Consumers) e-marketplaces like Zhongdamen (www.zhongdamen.com), a cross-border e-commerce platform under a “comprehensive bonded zone” in Zhengzhou, Henan province.

The services of customs, inspections, warehouse and logistics are combined under one roof.

The foreign sellers supply the products and the rest – promoting the products in an offline venue, managing the online platform and delivering the products to retail customers – are all handled by Zhongdamen.

A virtual Malaysian pavilion dedicated to products from Malaysia has been set up by Reliance Seas Sdn Bhd on Zhongdamen, alongside Korean, French and Belgian pavilions.

Xu Jingyi from Reliance Seas said Zhongdamen provides a chance for SMEs, who are otherwise deterred by the complicated process to export their products to China, to venture into the China market.

Among the 1,200 SKUs (stock-keeping units) available in the Malaysian pavilion are Claypot sauces and pastes and Cowa coconut water manufactured by Linaco Group.

Its business development strategist Kobe Tee said the platform has relaxed restrictions for food products for the benefit of foreign exporters.

“For example, our bak kut teh mix is normally considered medicine for its herbal content, which requires approval from the Chinese authorities.

“But this requirement is exempted when we offer the product through Zhongdamen.”

Meanwhile, Susila said that despite the popularity of e-commerce, fairs like Caexpo remain an important channel for Malaysian businesses to understand the market needs, from the taste to the packaging of products.

SGK Food Industry Sdn Bhd business development director Steven K. Pillai, who was at Caexpo to identify pot­ential distributors, can attest to this.

“We were told there is no need to change the packaging design of our confectionery to include Chinese characters.

“The existing one reflects the status of a foreign brand, which the consumers like,” he said.

“Chinese words on the packaging will give the impression that the products are locally manufactured. Consumers here prefer imported goods because of the food safety issue in China,” he explained.

Tee shared his company’s multi-pronged approach in order to gain a foothold in the China market.

“We participate in fairs to get a feel of the market and visit distributors to discuss collaboration.

“We have to identify a reliable distributor in each channel, such as one to list our products at supermarkets and another to offer our products online, to tap into the opportunities offered by this huge market,” he said.

Matrade assures the SMEs that it is there to guide them to break into the China market.

Matrade trade commissioner in Guangzhou Suresh Kumar said the focus is now expanding to second and third-tier Chinese cities, such as Foshan, Zhongshan and Zhuhai in the southern province of Guangdong, where purchasing power is on the rise.

While food and beverage products from Malaysia are popular among Chinese consumers, the fact is that their value is small.

Suresh said Matrade is working hard to push for the sectors of auto parts, healthcare and electronics and electrical (E&E) items as well.

In 2014, E&E products ranked the first by value among all product sectors that Malaysia exported to China, contributing to 46.7% or RM13.16bil of the total exports.

At 10.3% or RM2.92bil, chemicals and chemical products were the second highest while palm oil (8.3% or USD2.34bil) was the third.

Susila added that Malaysian businesses have to be more aggressive in competing for business segment during this economy slowdown.

“When the market is in a lull, it is the best time to spend money on advertising as people are looking for alternatives,” she said.

“Nobody stops promotion when times are bad.

Matrade is still aggressively promoting so people will remember the ‘Malaysia’ brand when the market picks up.”

The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 (Bernama) — Halal Ingredients Asia 2015, touted as Asia’s first event platform for halal food and personal care ingredients industry, opened its doors on Monday.

The three-day event represents the region’s best gathering and market place for halal ingredient professionals and industry players in providing thought leadership to further accelerate and enhance the development of the industry.

Halal Development Corp (HDC) Chief Executive Officer, Datuk Seri Jamil Bidin, said the event would focus on several components to give a whole new perspective and opportunities via a conference, exhibition and business-to-business (B2B) networking.

“It will also enhance opportunities for trade and investment as well as for local halal ingredient players to be exposed to international buyers,” he told the media on the sidelines of the event opened by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi here.

Jamil said the manufacturers, distributors and suppliers would discover a wealth of opportunities in their interactions at the event taking place at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The event, hosted by HDC together with the International Trade and Industry Ministry, has attracted some 50 ingredient companies which will showcase their products and related services linked to the halal industry.

Jamil said the conference portion of the show gathered some 30 international halal experts and approximately 200 delegates from around the world to meet and unite by addressing issues on supply and demand of halal ingredients.

“B2B networking sessions are being organised for delegates and exhibitors to create new business relationships and further expand existing businesses,” he said.

Halal ingredients refer to halal-compliant raw materials or commodities, substances or component in the form of finished and semi finished products, made from permissible sources that could be found in finished consumers goods.

They include emulsifiers, flavorings and anti-caking agents.

NANNING, 20 Sept (Bernama) — Selepas China, Program Groom Big yang dikendalikan atas usaha sama Kementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri (MITI), MATRADE dan SIRIM, bakal memberi peluang kepada pengusaha Bumiputera untuk mengembangkan sayap mereka ke pasaran Timur Tengah dan Amerika Syarikat.

Pengarah Pembangunan Perniagaan Bumiputera MITI Bahria Mohd Tamil berkata buat masa ini, sektor yang diberi fokus ialah produk berasaskan makanan halal.

“Buat masa ini, memang kita mahu fokus pada makanan halal dahulu. Baru-baru ini, majlis ekspo kebangsaan memutuskan supaya produk halal diperkenalkan bagi meningkatkan eksport kita dalam usaha menangani situasi ekonomi semasa,” kata Bahria kepada media Malaysia di Ekspo China-ASEAN (CAEXPO) 2015.

Beliau turut berharap dapat menambah penyertaan syarikat Bumiputera di bawah program ini ke CAEXPO tahun depan jika sambutan tahun ini menggalakkan.

“Setakat hari pertama, sejumlah RM15,000 transaksi jualan tunai berjaya dikumpul, dan China merupakan satu pasaran yang besar untuk syarikat di bawah Groom Big tembusi,” kata Bahria.

CAEXPO 2015 merupakan misi perdagangan pertama mereka sejak ditubuhkan pada 2006.

Untuk CAEXPO tahun ini, Program Groom Big membawa 19 syarikat tempatan bagi mempromosikan produk mereka ke pasaran China.

Antara syarikat yang dikatakan berpotensi untuk menembusi pasaran China ialah Hajjah Aminah Food Industry dan Fikrysz (M) Sdn Bhd yang sudah pun berjaya menembusi pasaran ASEAN serta global.

Daripada 1,200 syarikat yang telah berdaftar dalam program ini, 50 syarikat merupakan syarikat yang sudah sedia untuk mengeksport.

Ekspo itu yang bermula pada 18 dan berakhir 21 Sept, menyaksikan lebih 2,200 syarikat dari China dan ASEAN, termasuk 149 syarikat dari Malaysia, mempamerkan produk dan perkhidmatan masing-masing di Pavilion Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: Perbadanan Pembangunan Perdagangan Luar Malaysia (Matrade) menyasarkan untuk meningkat eksport barangan pertanian ke Turki tahun ini, diperkukuh oleh permintaan yang semakin meningkat ke atas buah-buahan tropika di negara itu.

Pesuruhjaya Perdagangan Matrade di Istanbul Idzham Abd Hamid berkata buah-buahan tropika seperti nanas, belimbing dan buah naga, mendapat permintaan tinggi di Turki.

Istanbul kini mengimport sebagaian besar buah-buahan tropika dari Belanda.

“Kita patut merebut peluang untuk mengeksport (lebih banyak) buah-buahan tropika kita ke negara itu,” katanya kepada pemberita di uar seminar Perjanjian Perdagangan Bebas (FTA) Malaysia-Turki, di sini, Rabu.

Eksport utama Malaysia ke Turki bagi tempoh Januari hingga Julai 2015 terdiri daripada barangan pertanian, dengan dagangan bagi segmen itu bernilai  RM386 juta, diikuti barangan pembuatan (RM1.2 bilion) dan barangan perlombongan  (RM3.3 juta).

Seminar bertema ‘Memanfaatkan FTA Malaysia-Turki bagi Meningkatkan Eksport’ itu bertujuan meningkatkan kerjasama dalam kalangan perusahaan kecil dan sederhana, bidang berkaitan halal, pertanian dan industri makanan, pembangunan penyelidikan serta inovasi. Ia Dihadiri 160 pengeksport.

Menerusi FTA, kedua-dua negara akan memansuhkan dan mengikat duti pada sifar peratus ke atas 70 peratus barisan tarif, dan untuk masa depan, duti akan secara beransur-ansur dikurangkan ke atas hampir 86 peratus barisan tarif.

FTA itu juga meningkatkan akses pasaran, termasuk memansuhkan duti kastam tambahan ke atas produk seperti tekstil, pakaian dan kasut selain layanan bebas duti antara lain ke atas produk getah, kayu, dan kulit.

Matrade juga yakin dagangan dua hala antara Malaysia dan Turki mampu mencecah US$1 bilion dalam tempoh 12 bulan akan datang memandangkan FTA antara kedua-dua negara baru berkuat kuasa 1 Ogos 2015.

Cabang promosi Kementerian Perdagangan Antarabangsa dan Industri itu dijangka mengetuai penyertaan syarikat Malaysia dalam dua misi pemasaran khusus ke Istanbul yang berlangsung sempena World Food Istanbul 2015 yang berlangsung  selama empat hari.

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