KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 2 — Local companies should view the unprecedented situation brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent international border closures as an opportunity instead of a barrier to expand their business overseas.

Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) deputy chief executive officer Sharimahton Mat Salleh said local companies should not be contented with the domestic market as many businesses are doubling their efforts to expand their market share.

She said the companies should instead take advantage of the current challenging period, given that many of their foreign competitors are “muting” their operations, adding that the companies should start searching for potential buyers or partners who are still keeping their business going.

“There are an abundance of opportunities (to penetrate the overseas market) as shown in our last trade figures (June and July) where exports has rebounded strongly,” she said.

Malaysia’s exports grew 3.1 per cent year-on-year to RM92.53 billion in July, from RM89.76 billion in the same month last year.

“If the companies are already in talks with other parties but cannot deliver (commit to the deal) now due to hiccups such as low capacity, short manpower and lower cash flows among other things, they should at least reconnect and explain the situation. 

“Do something in a right and persistent manner so that the foreign companies will see their determination to secure the deal,” she said to Bernama.

Sharimahton said local companies should also come forward and engage with Matrade to explore market opportunities and assistance, especially those offered under eBizMatch, Matrade’s virtual one-to-one business matching platform.

From Jan 1 until July 31, 2020, a total of 576 business matchings were held, where 395 foreign buyers were matched to 538 Malaysian companies, registering a sales potential of RM461.35 million.

She said Matrade has been actively engaging with its trade commissioners in 46 locations around the globe, working around the clock even during the Movement Control Order due to the time differences.

“In the new norm, digitalisation plays an important role, especially in business matching and trading with other nations.

“The e-commerce business showed drastic improvements even though they are not involved in exports on a large scale,” she said.

To encourage more local companies’ participation in international virtual meetings and exhibitions, the scope of Matrade’s Market Development Grant (MDG) has been expanded to include fees, digital marketing tools and marketing blasts, among others, she said.

It also includes the reimbursement of up to 30 per cent of total logistic costs, up to a maximum of RM15,000.

The MDG was introduced in 2002 to assist exporters in their efforts to promote Malaysian-made products or services globally.


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