Image credit: The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) is confident that bilateral trade between Malaysia and China could surpass US$190bil (RM856bil) this year.

Based on current trade trends, Miti Deputy Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong said the amount could even hit US$200bil (RM901bil).

“The bilateral trade and economic relations between Malaysia and China is at an all-time high. China is Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 13 consecutive years,” he said in his opening speech at the 4th Malaysia-China B2B business matching session yesterday.

Jointly hosted by Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) and China Construction Bank Corp (CCB), the event kickstarts the upcoming 19th China-Asean Expo (CAEXPO) 2022 in which Malaysia will be the country of honour.

Matrade chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz said its partnership with CCB was timely as the economy emerged from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“While we are on the path of economic recovery, we need to undertake all necessary efforts in ensuring rapid and sustainable economic growth between both countries.

“The government sector and business community need to engage productively and come up with effective economic and commercial responses to enhance trade cooperation for mutual benefit,” he said in his keynote address.

For the first seven months of 2022, Malaysia’s trade with China increased 16.9% compared with the same period last year.

Local exports went up 13.2% backed by higher exports of electrical and electronic products, liquefied natural gas and metalliferous ores and metal scrap. On the other hand, Malaysia’s imports from China grew 19.8%.

In order to sustain the friendly cooperation between Malaysia and China, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Matrade and CCB, witnessed by Lim and ambassador of the People’s Republic of China, Ouyang Yujing.

Besides that, the event also featured the signing of seven business-to-business MoUs between Malaysia and Chinese enterprises in various industries.

The trade value in the various MoUs amounted to more than US$750mil (RM3.4bil).

Moreover, Mustafa noted that the pandemic had highlighted the need for business communities to adopt business initiatives.

For this, Matrade has come up with many initiatives to ensure business continuity via a digitalisation approach for Malaysian companies and exporters.

Among the said initiatives are eBizMatch, virtual National Export Day, a virtual Mihas exhibition, virtual export acceleration and more.

Additionally, CCB has developed CCB Match Plus, a digital business matching platform.

“I would like to encourage Malaysian companies to be proactive to leverage on CAEXPO and CCB Match Plus for business expansion, as these are proven market platforms to connect with credible Chinese business communities,” said Mustafa.

The business matching event will see more than 300 business meetings pre-arranged for more than 50 domestic companies to explore collaboration and business opportunities with Chinese enterprises comprising importers, exporters and potential investors.

For the 19th CAEXPO, various local companies including small and medium enterprises, along with Malaysian brands like PETRONAS, AirAsia, Shangri-La and Sime Darby Bhd will be showcased.

Last year, Malaysia’s participation in CAEXPO saw the participation of 58 Malaysian companies and generated RM572mil in potential export sales.