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Friday, October 17, 2008

Matrade to focus on Asian markets in 2009

ASIA, which accounts for 60 per cent of Malaysia's total exports, will be the major focus for trade promotion in 2009, said Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) chief executive officer Datuk Noharuddin Nordin.

NOHARUDDIN: About 40 per cent of Matrade's promotion programmes in 2009 will be aimed at markets within Asia

Between January and August this year, Asian markets including the Middle East contributed to more than 66 per cent of Malaysia's total exports.

He said about 40 per cent of Matrade's trade promotion programmes in 2009 will be aimed at markets within Asia, with particular focus on the Northeast Asia and Asean markets.

Export growth contracted during the slowdown of 2001, but this time around the diversified markets will be a saving factor, he added.

China and India are projected to grow at nine per cent and seven per cent respectively, which will enable these economies to absorb exports not only from Malaysia but other nations as well.

"We will not neglect the traditional markets in North America, Europe and Japan as they still account for a large percentage of the exports. As such, any movement in these markets will still have a significant impact on the total export performance.

"Our objective is to at least sustain Malaysia's share and to continue to identify niches for growth," he said at a media briefing highlighting Matrade's promotional programmes for 2009.

Noharuddin was confident that Malaysian trade numbers would still be strong in 2008, possibly with double-digit growth since exports for the first eight months of the year have already seen a 16.1 per cent growth.

He said 2009 will be more challenging, with the global outlook pointing towards recession in some of the major economies.

"Despite that outlook, there are economies that will do relatively well, and we need to comb the global environment to increase exports. We need to look for small opportunities and aggregate them, to offset any negative impact to our main markets."

The top five product sectors to be promoted are building materials, food, agricultural , automotive parts and components, medical and pharmaceutical and electrical and electronic (E&E) products.

Matrade will continue to organise its own trade fairs, the Malaysia Services Exhibition, Malaysia International Halal Showcase and International Trade Malaysia in addition to participating in international trade fairs to promote Malaysian products and services.

The services sector, which is seen as increasing in its importance to the Malaysian economy, will be one of the important focus areas for Matrade through comprehensive promotions, particularly for furniture, fashion and design products.

Oil and gas as well as health and medical care sectors will be promoted extensively while critically impacted sectors such as textiles and apparels will be stimulated through specialised marketing missions to Brazil and Mexico.

It will be holding the second Malaysian Services Exhibition in Dubai in March next year.

In terms of Malaysian exporters' capacity building, Matrade will also enhance the ability of the exporters to leverage on bilateral and regional free trade agreements.

By New Straits Times (by Rupa Damodaran)

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