Meeting to gain mutual benefits

CHINESE investors from industries with innovative technologies are keen to make Malaysia a manufacturing and distribution hub for their products.

At the 8th Malaysia-China Entrepreneur Conference (MCEC) last month, there was a stream of queries on the policies and procedures for setting up such businesses in Malaysia.

Some 200 entrepreneurs from each of the two countries attended the event in Nanjing in China’s eastern-central coastal Jiangsu province.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Connecting Business Worldwide”.

Zheng Xiaoli, sales director of Jiangsu Jirun Housing Technology, said she hoped to link up with Malaysian companies in construction and natural gas to help her company expand overseas.

“I have been to Malaysia a few times and I love it. The people are friendly and always have a smile on their faces. The environment is good and I don’t have to worry about communication problems,” she added.

Zheng’s company specialises in smart home and building systems, and its management has been scouting around for a suitable location for an Asean hub. She pointed out that she had also been looking for natural gas suppliers.

Held annually by the Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce (MCCC), the MCEC is aimed at forging networks and encouraging trade cooperation.

Malaysia and China have taken turns hosting the event since 2014 to better connect entrepreneurs from both nations.

The previous two times the conference was staged in China were in Xiamen of Fujian province and Chengdu of Sichuan province.

“Conducting the conference outside Malaysia enables Malaysians to explore more opportunities around China, as well as allowing more Chinese to attend and interact with us,” explained MCCC president Tan Yew Sing.

He explained that Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu, was chosen for this year’s conference in view of the increasing trade cooperation between Malaysia and the province.

“Malaysia is not only Jiangsu’s largest import market and second largest trading partner, it is also the province’s second largest source of foreign investments among the Asean countries,” he said.

The conference was concurrently held with the 2018 China Nanjing Golden Autumn Economic and Trade Fair.

Nanjing is an ancient city with a long history of trade and manufacturing, stretching back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

The entrepreneurial and business environment of the province has nurtured numerous entrepreneurs known as Su Shang (Jiangsu businessmen), who have turned the place into the most prosperous land in Jiangnan.

Jiangnan refers to the region south of Yangtze River and it covers several provinces where major cities like Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Ningbo, Shaoxing and Wuxi are located.

“Su Shang were the pioneer batch of Chinese in the industrial revolution and they subsequently ventured into the innovation industry. They are the best partners to help Malaysia pursue our industrial transformation,” said Tan.

As at July this year, Malaysians had invested in 891 projects totalling US$2.9bil (RM11.88bil) in Jiangsu, while Jiangsu entrepreneurs had poured in US$700mil (RM2.87bil) to set up 99 companies in Malaysia.

In his speech at the conference, Tan noted that Malaysia’s lack of skilled workers and experts in research and development (R&D) was a weakness.

“We want to generate job opportunities for Malaysians and not foreigners, but we do not have the people,” he added.

Highlighting that Malaysia, as a robust developing country, is in need of R&D manpower with advanced knowledge and experience, he proposed that Malaysia strengthened the exchange of talent with China.

“China is advanced in emerging technologies such as mobile payment, innovative technology, e-commerce, biotechnology and artificial intelligence, and it has abundant R&D manpower.

“In order to link up with China’s advanced industries as soon as possible, it is necessary for both countries to start from vocational education cooperation to nurture a new generation with high-quality skills and who are familiar with economic conditions and technological development capabilities.

“They (the Chinese) are advanced. If you cannot beat them, work with them,” he added.

Tan, his MCCC colleagues and officials from Malaysia’s Tourism, Finance and International Trade and Industry Ministries were kept busy attending to queries from Chinese conference participants about setting up businesses in Malaysia.

“They see Malaysia as a gateway to Asean. But it’s not just that; being multiracial, Malaysians can also help the Chinese tap into two other emerging forces – the Indian economy and the halal economy,” Tan said.

In conjunction with the conference, four sub-forums were organised.

They focused on advanced manufacturing, biomedicine, agriculture and food, and tourism and services because these are seen as emerging industries that are the key in accelerating Malaysia’s economic transformation.

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