Keeping the goods moving

Opening pathways: Matrade chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz (far left) and Amazon Global Selling for South-East Asia head Anand Palit exchanging an MoU at the Matrade Singapore office opening in Singapore. Looking on are Tengku Zafrul (second from left) and Matrade chairman Datuk Seri Reezal Merican Naina Merican. — THOMAS YONG/The Star

SINGAPORE: The newly-formed Malaysia-Singapore supply chain working group will build resilience and redesign supply chains in the region, says Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.

The Investment, Trade and Industry Minister said the Covid-19 pandemic had shown the impact of supply chain disruptions to the economies of both countries.

“During that time, we had major challenges in terms of supply chain. We had to close factories, borders, people were not allowed to go to work and many essential items were affected.

“God forbid (the pandemic) will not happen again but if it does, at least we have measures put in place with the processes to follow,” he told reporters after launching the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) trade office here yesterday.

“I don’t think Malaysians and Singaporeans will forgive policymakers – the government – if we say that we are not prepared when we have gone through it (pandemic) before.”

He said the supply chain will be one of the key issues discussed during the upcoming Malaysia-Singapore Leaders’ Retreat, expected to be held in September.

“Hopefully by then, we can come up with something more substantive,” said Tengku Zafrul, adding that his ministry would also use the annual event to report its progress for initiatives that were signed in the previous retreat.

This includes the frameworks of cooperation between his ministry and Singapore’s Trade and Industry Ministry on digital economy and green initiatives.

In a joint press release by Tengku Zafrul and Singapore’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong on Thursday, they welcomed the establishment of a new Supply Chain Cooperation Working Group (SCWG) between both their ministries.

The formation of SCWG was built upon Malaysia and Singapore’s common interests in supply chain resilience.

Tengku Zafrul said the opening of the Matrade office on the island republic was also timely in view of the ongoing discussions to establish the Johor-Singapore Special Economic Zone (JS-SEZ).

“During a lunch meeting hosted by DPM Gan on Thursday, we met a number of local chambers and business leaders and they are all excited about the JS-SEZ.

“I hope they can use Matrade and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) offices as a point of contact once the JS-SEZ is finalised by the end of the year after the annual leaders’ retreat involving both countries,” he added.

He also said the Malay Chamber of Commerce Singapore highlighted its hope that the JS-SEZ could lead to more mutual recognition for halal food and beverage products in the future.

Tengku Zafrul said he informed the Halal Development Corporation (HDC) and the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to work with their Singapore counterparts to address the matter.

“The halal market today is worth US$3 trillion (RM14.14 trillion) and it is expected to reach US$5 trillion (RM23.57 trillion) by 2030, so it is a huge sector.

“We will meet with the CEOs of Mida, Matrade and HDC to see how we can put more focus and emphasis on this and also ensure that Malaysian companies play a part,” he said, adding that halal certification by Jakim was among the challenges faced so a holistic approach would be needed.

In conjunction with the opening of the Matrade office, Tengku Zafrul also witnessed the exchange of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Matrade and Amazon Global Selling to boost Malaysian brand owners cross-border eCommerce transactions and to support their growth through training workshops.

The MoU will also see Malaysian micro, small and medium enterprises equipped with the necessary knowledge and resources to expand their presence on Amazon’s eStores and grow their brands in the United States.

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