The COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying lockdowns around the world have gravely impacted global trade, with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) estimating that it will fall by 13 percent to 32 percent this year compared with 2019 levels.
In light of these developments, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) has stepped up to help the nation and exporters especially, navigate through the turbulence caused by the pandemic and adjust to the new normal. This is in line with its mission as Malaysia’s principal agency for the promotion of exports.
One sector that MATRADE is focusing on are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Comprising around 98.5 percent of registered businesses in the country, SMEs contributed 38.3 percent to the GDP, 66 percent to employment and 17.3 percent to export value in 2018. They were also among the most heavily affected by the MCO as many were not prepared for the disruption to business.
One way of business recovery post-MCO is through trade, which is why MATRADE is encouraging SMEs to start focusing on increasing exports. In line with this, MATRADE has a number of export development and promotion programmes, which SMEs can participate in.
One of these is MyExport – an online portal where registered SMEs can access a wealth of information that will help them enhance their knowledge when seeking to go overseas. These include trade leads, market intelligence reports, and the latest trends in international business.
Incidentally, the existence of MyExport and other online platforms in MATRADE’s range of offerings reflect the growing importance of digitalisation in Malaysia’s economy.
One such tool is the eTRADE programme, which aims to help SMEs adopt ecommerce in order to boost exports. It should be noted that registrations for eTRADE had increased during the MCO period, which goes to show how vital going digital is for the continued growth of businesses in Malaysia.
In fact, MATRADE has been ramping up its adoption of digital technology in response to travel restrictions and in line with the new normal. This includes conducting buyer-seller engagements through digital platforms in order to get round travel restrictions.
One such example is the eBizMatch programme, which MATRADE’s trade commissioners around the world have been using to arrange for one-on-one virtual meetings between Malaysian exporters and international buyers.
Aside from facilitating Malaysian companies export to the world, MATRADE also plays an important role in bringing foreign buyers and international companies to Malaysia via its 46 overseas offices around the world.
There are many compelling reasons why buyers looking to source for products and services should consider Malaysia as a preferred choice.
Malaysia offers a wide range of diversified products and services, with the “Choose Malaysia” label having been positioned by MATRADE as a sign of quality and reliability.
Among the many products that Malaysia is a leading exporter of are medical gloves (surgical and non-surgical), electronic integrated circuits, oscilloscopes & oscillographs, glycerol, soap in various forms, machinery, equipment & parts for specific purposes, as well as vegetable fats &
oils and processed foods.
In addition, Malaysia’s halal certification is recognised worldwide and the country is renowned for its high quality halal products.
More than just products, Malaysian companies have also gained international recognition for their excellence in the services sector, in particular construction and related services, professional services and oil & gas services. This is reflected in Malaysian construction and engineering firms being involved in various airports, railways, monorail, and megaprojects in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, India and ASEAN.
And talking about ASEAN, foreign companies that are looking to do business in this key market of more than 630 million people (or 8 percent of the total) will do well to start off in Malaysia. Boasting strong business-friendly policies and first-class road, rail, air and sea connectivity, Malaysia is the gateway to the region.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on Malaysian and global trade, putting the world economy into a tailspin that would take some time to recover from. Companies need to look at new ways of doing business and for conducting trade. MATRADE stands ready to help link foreign buyers with Malaysian exporters, and in doing so ensure that all sides cope with this new normal and emerge stronger than ever.