JOHOR BARU: Now is the best time for local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to expand their export activities in view of the weakening of the ringgit against the greenback, says Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) southern region director Raphy Md Radzi.
He said the weakening of ringgit had made the country’s manufacturing sector more competitive, especially for export-oriented companies.
“Most business transactions are still conducted in US dollars, hence importers are likely to increase their orders from local exporters,” said Raphy after opening the cross culture client management in international business workshop organised by Matrade at the Johor Entrepreneur Development Centre here yesterday.
He said local SMEs should reduce their dependency on the domestic market which had already stagnated and start eyeing to expand beyond Malaysia.
He said the country’s population was considered small for their products compared with other countries in the region except for Brunei and Singapore.
“The Asean Economic Community (AEC) with over 600 million people is a huge market for our SMEs and also due to the shortest export route for them,” added Raphy.
He said there were about 2,200 SMEs in Johor, Malacca and Negri Sembilan registered with the Matrade southern region of which 80% were involved in the food and beverage-related processing activities.
Matrade manager (export training unit of knowledge enabler division) Mohd Amin Bakar said most of the local SMEs who took part in the trade expositions in Malaysia and overseas failed to understand the business culture of foreign companies and businessmen.
He said they should change their mindset and focus of closing business deals there instead of treating their participation as a holiday or for leisure.
“You should do your homework first and Matrade with 45 offices worldwide is more than willing to assist Malaysian companies to export their products,” said Mohd Amin.
He said for instance, Japanese clients would not make a business decision on the spot and would normally take about a year or more before deciding to import products from other countries.
Mohd Amin said on the other hand, the Middle Eastern businessmen would assign their staff to survey the foreign participants in the first two days of the exposition and the owner themselves would only come on the last day of the event.
“If the Arab owners decided to come and visit the factory in Malaysia, they prefer to stay with the local host instead of staying in a hotel,” he added.
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