Investing effectively in China

IPOH: Local small and medium enterprises seeking to make headway in China may find it a daunting task, especially if they do not have any lead on where to begin.

iN Publishers Sdn Bhd founder Iko In encountered some obstacles when he wanted to expand the readership of his interior design magazine.

However, the annual Inno Design Tech Expo, organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC), had managed to link his company to the vast market of China, he said.

“We wanted to tap into the international market, but did not know where to begin.

“However, the chance came when we were invited to the expo and we saw how big the potential market was,” he said.

His company not only publishes interior design magazines but also produces television programmes, online magazines and a new concept retail store, Viva Home.

“We see this as a platform not only to promote our magazine in the international market, but also present top Malaysian designers,” he told StarBiz at the three-day expo in Hong Kong recently.

Also at expo was FIX interior collections Sdn Bhd managing director Edwin Cassian, an interior designer, who thinks that going into the international market is a personal direction more than just business sense.

“As a designer, I am here to share what we have in Malaysia, with the international market,” he said.

Cassian sees the expo as a platform for him to achieve his target.

“The expo not only creates opportunities, it is a good source of inspiration where I can learn from other designers and network with them,” he said.

Now in its seventh year, the expo is an international platform drawing thousands of visitors from Dec 1 to Dec 3.

This year, a noteworthy booth on display is the Japan area aid design project by the Japan Institute of Design Promotion (JDP).

Featuring products from more than 100 small and medium enterprises from the Tohoku region and Ibaraki prefecture, JDP manager Jun Akimoto said the project aimed to introduce designers from the region to Japan and the world.

“So starting with exhibitions in Japan before moving to Taiwan last year, we were able to raise more awareness on the design potential in this area and encourage more designers to collaborate with them,” he said.

Although the region is still struggling to recover from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster last March, Jun believes the project has hastened the recovery process.

“One of our aims is also to open up sales routes that are previously not available for these companies into the larger Asian market or even the European market. The expo is a great place to achieve that target,” he said.Among the designers at the project was Yoshinobu Shibata, who produces magewappa or bent-woodware, from the Odata city in the Akita prefecture.

The magewappa is craftwork made by drying and bending strips of the Japanese cedar tree to create containers and household products. They have with straight grains and a light yet rich colour.

Shibata said through the expo and the project, he was able to meet with various designers and craftsman in the world to market his products.

“Currently I am looking for international buyers and I want to exchange my ideas with other craftsman as well as seek inspiration for new products,” he said adding that local demands for his products are high.

Running concurrently with the expo is the World SME Expo and the Business of Intellectual Property Asia Forum.

The World SME Expo presents opportunities for companies seeking to enter the China market.

Visitors can also take advantage of the HKTDC business matching servicesto find potential business partners.

The service provides profile of potential partners and set appointments for companies to meet business partners.

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