Good showing for exporters

Industry experts: First judging round for EEA 2021: (top row, from left) MRCA’s Afendi, Team’s Tan and ACCCIM’s Koong, along with (middle row, from left) ACCCIM’s Chai, MAICCI’s Samanan and MCCC’s Ngan, as well as (bottom row, from left) Amcham’s Vejay, KLMCC’s Rizal and Amcham’s Guo during the virtual judging held on Oct 14.

PETALING JAYA: Despite the headwinds brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, applicants for Export Excellence Awards 2021 have witnessed a positive growth trajectory year-on-year, according to the chief judges in the first round of judging for the awards programme.

“Our companies are more resilient than we give them credit for. While the world is going through turbulence and economic depression, through the submissions, we can see that they have found a way to grow year-on-year from 2019 to 2021,” said Kuala Lumpur Malay Chamber of Commerce (KLMCC) honorary secretary Rizal Abdul Rahman.

Remarking that the export figures for the submissions he went through were “quite impressive”, he said that it was great to see that such growth was across the board for all sectors in general, rather than limited to a few such as medical devices.

He added, “Reading through their essays, you get a rough idea of the measures they took to improve their situations and they managed to communicate and impress that message they wanted to send across to us.”

Agreeing with Rizal’s point of view, Malaysia Retail Chain Association (MRCA) council member Dr Afendi Dahlan said that each company had its own strengths and its weaknesses, which the judges had to balance against the awards programme’s criteria.

“I’m proud to say that the companies have made a huge success out of it by turning the (Covid-19) crisis into an opportunity for their businesses, making a big impact for the economy of Malaysia.

“Some have really prospered and grew the company more than they have done in the years prior to the pandemic,” he shared.

For instance, an example he pointed to was companies that shared stories in their submission essays – which is part of the submission criteria – on tapping into the opportunities to fill the gaps in the supply chain that have emerged from the China-America trade tensions, thus growing their businesses tremendously.

Afendi also noted that the panel of judges in his group were “pleasantly surprised” by the quality of submissions for this year’s EEA, where even the amount or volume of business that has been generated has been impressive, in addition to their growth and performance, alongside other criteria and metrics of the awards programme.

However, he recommended that companies be more thorough and go in-depth into the details, as well as spend quality time and effort to provide more supporting documents and photos to better illustrate their point of view.

Offering a slightly different perspective was Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) treasurer Koong Lin Loong, who shared his hope that more small and medium enterprises (SMEs) or smaller companies would proactively submit their applications for awards such as EEA.

Winning the award is one thing, he stressed, but what matters more is the spirit of participation in self-benchmarking against their peers and industry leaders to chart their progress.

He opined, “SMEs should come forward to participate in awards, especially as we are at the starting point of the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) and we’re going towards technology in the Fourth Digital Revolution to show their contribution towards nation-building efforts.

“They should participate to see where they stand, as compared to others in their industry, to see where they can improve by preparing their submissions. We want to see SMEs grow much bigger in order to compete in the global market.”

He further added his advice that for all submissions, companies should focus more on environmental, social and corporate governance considerations, in terms of their products, services and initiatives to improve their businesses in line with the 12MP and global trends.

Aside from the chief judges, the first round of judging for EEA 2021 that was held virtually on Oct 14 saw the participation of Timber Exporters’ Association of Malaysia (Team) committee member George Tan, ACCCIM deputy secretary-general Michael Chai, Malaysian Associated Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MAICCI) council member Datuk Dr Samanan Ratnam, Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC) vice-president Ngan Teng Ye, as well as American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) representatives Vejay Kumar Narayanan and Guo Xiuling.

EEA 2021 is organised by Star Media Group in partnership with Standard Chartered, with Matrade as patron. It is audited by BDO. For more information on EEA 2021, visit, contact Victor at or Jency at

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