SOME Taiwanese companies may have pulled out of Malaysia for lower cost producing countries like China and Vietnam, but Taiwanese investors still look upon Malaysia favourably, Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre president for Taiwan Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri said.
Rahim, who has been posted to Taipei for four years, told Malaysian journalists that just last week, the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority had approved a Taiwanese investment proposal to produce high-precision camera parts in Malacca.
He said there were certain areas where Malaysia featured quite highly on Taiwanese investors' list. These were information technology and multimedia, in view of the country's desired goal to pursue development objectives through the Multimedia Media Super Corridor.
On another note, Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre director of trade Rusiah Mohamed said five Malaysian companies would be taking part in the Taiwan International Computer Show or Computex to be held in Taipei from Sept 22 to 26.
The response from exhibitors has been overwhelming. We managed to get space to put up a national pavilion for six booths,'' she said of the exhibition, which was postponed from June due to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak.
On agricultural exports from Malaysia, Rusiah said Malaysians had made some progress in cut flowers and watermelons.
She said the market was very competitive in Taiwan, and that Malaysia needed to pay special attention to quality and pricing.
In an effort to attract more Taiwanese investments, Rahim said his centre provided same day approval for business visas of up to one year with multiple entries.
Leisure visitors were given up to two months with multiple entry, he said, adding that the centre had always sought to be prompt and efficient in issuing visas, especially to businessmen.
Rahim also urged Malaysian small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) to learn from their counterparts in Taiwan on how to better serve multinationals and the export markets.
Taiwanese SMEs are more into producing for global deployment. They don't just produce for the domestic market, he said, adding that Taiwan had also been rather successful in luring brains to return to Taiwan, with the Hsinchu Science Park having benefited from this.
Rahim said Taiwanese SMEs were known for their flexibility, agility and efficiency, and in being attuned to the needs of the export market. He said they were always on their toes, constantly seeking opportunities worldwide.
At the end of last year, there were 1.08 million SMEs in Taiwan employing some 7.28 million people or 78% of the labour force. The total value of their exports was about US$3.82bil, about 21% of Taiwan's exports.
Rahim said there was a lot that Malaysia could learn from Taiwan, one of the countries included in Malaysia's Look East policy.
He said Taiwan sought to create a healthy environment for the development of SMEs by ensuring that SMEs' legal rights were protected, with frequent revisions in line with the overall environment.
Taiwan's Economic Affairs Administration Ministry also helps SMEs to secure government procurement opportunities, and collects research on and makes analysis of SMEs' business environment.
The Malaysian Friendship and Trade Centre in Taipei has a staff strength of 50, including 15 Malaysians.
Bilateral trade between Malaysia and Taiwan amounted to US$7.2bil last year. Taiwanese investments in Malaysia was estimated at US$9.2bil as at the end of 2002.
Rahim also revealed that Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Bhd might introduce its Waja and Arena models to the Taiwanese market later this year, with Proton having sold some Wira and Satria cars there.
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