‘Having Singapore base will boost regional trade’

Tengku Zafrul (right) giving a speech before launching the Matrade Singapore office. Looking on are Reezal Merican (far left) and Malaysian High Commissioner to Singapore Datuk Dr Azfar Mohamad Mustafar (second from left). — THOMAS YONG/The Star

OPENING a Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) office in Singapore is part of Putrajaya’s effort to enhance trade and investment between both countries and Asean as a whole.

Matrade chairman Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican said the setting up of its 49th office in Singapore, following those in Cairo in Egypt and Paris in France, was based on data and global trade trends.

“For example, look at the new emerging markets for Africa.

“About seven to eight years ago, they had a population of 800 million and at present, it is already 1.4 billion.

“They are also embarking on multilateral trade treaties like the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa)... we are probably looking at Egypt as a gateway (to Africa),” he said in an interview after the launch.

Reezal Merican said Matrade was also promoting Malaysia as a gateway to the Asean region, which has a young and talented workforce.

“Strengthening Matrade’s presence globally is becoming increasingly important and setting up an office in Singapore is part of the efforts in doing so,” he said.

Investment, Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, who launched the Matrade Singapore office in Robinson Road, said the national trade promotion body played a key role in helping not just large companies export to various markets but small businesses too.

He noted that Asean’s population of close to 670 million people and gross domestic product (GDP) of US$3.8 trillion (RM17.9 trillion) made it the fifth largest economic bloc in the world.

“Our GDP is growing 4% to 5% and we are supposed to become the fourth largest economic bloc by 2030.

“When you look at the Asean population as a whole, 50% is aged 30 and below while 99% of Asean companies are small and medium enterprises (SME),” said Tengku Zafrul.

The minister said ecommerce platforms would play a significant role in increasing intra-trade within Asean, which currently stood at around 23%.

“We hope our collaboration with global platforms Amazon and TikTok will help boost that,” he said.

In conjunction with the opening, Matrade signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Amazon Global Selling to help Malaysian brand owners and sellers seize cross-border business opportunities with the platform.

Reezal Merican said Matrade was thrilled to partner with Amazon in its efforts to empower Malaysian SMEs in international markets.

“This collaboration highlights our commitment to helping them leverage ecommerce in expanding their global footprint.

“Together with Amazon, we aim to provide Malaysian SMEs with the essential tools, knowledge and support to succeed in today’s competitive global marketplace,” he added.

In addition, Matrade also joined hands with TikTok Shop to intensify cross-border business opportunities through the #ThisisMY campaign.

Taking advantage of Asean Online Sales Day, an annual event that promotes ecommerce activities within Asean, #ThisisMY campaign will be intensified on Aug 8.

“We are excited to partner with TikTok Shop, one of the largest social commerce platforms worldwide, to effectively assist more homegrown Malaysian businesses, ushering them towards greater success globally,” said Reezal Merican.

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