Sales at China’s CAEXPO up 53.6% to RM329.60mil

Malaysia’s sales at the 13th China-Asean Expo (CAEXPO) 2016 last week topped RM329.60mil, a 53.6% increase from last year’s event, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) said.

MATRADE’s China Unit director Ong Yew Chee said sales surpassed the target of RM250mil.

At CAEXPO 2015, RM214.61mil in sales were generated.

He said the sales mainly came from food and beverage (RM169.6mil), health and wellness (RM126.12mil), lifestyle (RM27.22mil), services (RM4.9mil) and franchise (RM1.02mil).

“Malaysia is strong in food and beverage, and our companies have improved their packaging. What attracts the Chinese consumers now is our Musang King durian and anything related to the king of fruits.

According to Ong, Malaysian brands were known for reliability and quality, and there were many choices for consumers in China to choose from.

“Malaysia’s participation in CAEXPO 2016 will hopefully create more opportunities in China and Asean.

“Besides, China’s effort to revitalise the Maritime Silk Route helps facilitate Malaysia’s efforts to strengthen its bilateral relations with one of the world’s economic powerhouses,” he added.

The number of Malaysian companies showcasing their products and services at the CAEXPO 2016 rose to 205, of which 53% were newcomers, from 149 last year.

Meanwhile, MATRADE Trade Commissioner to Guangzhou, Zaimah Osman, urged Malaysian companies that were keen to enter China’s third-tier cities such as Nanning to keep themselves updated on the market trends.

“MATRADE, through its Guangzhou office, can facilitate this requirement,” she said.

Malaysia has been China’s largest Asean trading partner since 2009. Total trade between Malaysia and China in 2015 jumped 14% to RM230.89bil from RM207.8bil in 2014.

Malaysia’s total export to China in 2015 increased 10% to RM101.53bil from the previous year.

Asean need to relook non-tariff barrier implementation

Asean countries need to examine the implementation of non-tariff barriers to ensure that they don’t restrict the entry of foreign companies.

Chief executive officer of Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), Wan Saiful Wan Jan, said although the tax rates for exports and imports had been reduced to near zero now, new restrictions had been imposed on foreign investor to protect the interests of local industries.

“Currently, Asean functions as an entity without a central command centre.

The members adopt policies based on their respective interests, and they have to entertain demand from local stakeholders.

“As a result, although the actual tariffs had been reduced to near zero, many new restrictions have been introduced that dampen the interests of foreign entrepreneurs and investors from investing in the country,” he said.

Wan Saiful gave the example of a country which had a law that required a certain type of fruit to be cooled to a certain degree and kept for a few days before being brought in.

The move, probably aimed at helping local fruit entrepreneurs, would increase the costs of the investors, he said.

“All these should be reviewed seriously if we want to address the issue of integration among Asean member countries,” he said.

E-commerce vital for Asean, says Alibaba’s Ma

Trading, via the e-commerce platform, will play an important role in the economic development of Asean, says Alibaba Group chairman, Jack Ma.

Ma, speaking at CAEXPO 2016 in Nanning last week, pointed out that the group had been promoting China’s products and services, for example in the services and construction industries, and helping to create jobs for more than three million people.

He said despite the challenges in trading through this channel, the technological change would bring more benefits to developing countries.

“Developing countries should be more confident about the changes from the data era. As long as they (developing countries) want to open up and do more trading via e-commerce, globalisation will bring us a better future,” he added.

Ma said Lazada was a company in which the Alibaba Group invested, and it had today become an important e-commerce platform brand for Asean.

Alibaba, founded in 1999, provides consumer-to-consumer, business-to-consumer and business-to-business sales services via its web portals. The group also provides electronic payment services through its shopping search engine as well as offer data-centric cloud computing services.

Meanwhile, China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said his country and Asean needed to strengthen the alignment of development strategies.

“We want to better synergise the initiatives under the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road with the development strategies of individual Asean members and the grouping as a whole,” he said.

“China stands ready to work with Asean countries to fully harness the role of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Silk Road fund, in providing funding,” he stressed.

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