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August 31, 2011

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Working to improve business ties

THE Malaysian Chamber of Commerce and Industry in China, or MayCham China, is consistently making efforts to boost business activities between Chinese and Malaysian enterprises since its official registration in China in 2004.

As the first Chamber of Commerce and Industry that is officially and legally registered outside of Malaysia, the non-profit organization is formed voluntarily by Malaysian commercial and industrial institutions and enterprises as well as Malaysian individuals in China.

It has worked closely with the Malaysian Embassy in its efforts to further promote and strengthen economic relations between both countries. Its efforts helped build Malaysia into China's biggest trade partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations for three straight years.

Chinese investments into Malaysia have grown substantially in recent years. Take manufacturing as an example, the investment value approved by Malaysian Industrial Development Authority increased from Ringgit 639 million (US$213 million) in 2010 to Ringgit 923 million (US$308 million) for the first four months of this year. The investments are mainly in the basic and fabricated metal industries, and transport equipment.

Malaysian investment in China from 2008 to 2010 amounted to US$966 million, which are mainly in manufacturing, wholesaling and retailing.

In 2006, MayCham China, Shanghai Chapter was established to expand its business to the Yangtze River Delta region.

"MayCham Shanghai strives to reach out to the Chinese business community. It has 30 percent non-Malaysian members and works closely with local associations and organizations such as, China Retail Association,, Shanghai Overseas Charity Foundation and Shanghai Real Estate Golf Team," said Kuok Chek Lin, chairman of MayCham Shanghai.

More than 18 years of experience in both industrial and the Big Four, or the four largest international accountancy and professional services firms, in the Asia-Pacific region provides Kuok strong leadership abilities.

He is a certified public accountant with a postgraduate degree in Masters of Business Administration, specializing in corporate governance, corporate re-structuring and mergers and acquisitions.

Kuok served as the Treasurer of MayCham since 2004. In 2011, he was elected as Chairman of MayCham Shanghai.

Q: What role does MayCham Shanghai play in business dealings between Malaysia and China?

A: We act as a bridge between Chinese and Malaysian companies and we link new Malaysian arrivals to the appropriate Chinese contacts.

The role of MayCham Shanghai is to provide a platform for Malaysians in Shanghai and local Chinese businesses with interests in Malaysia. This platform provides networking opportunities for members to exchange knowledge and expertise through seminars and gatherings.

Our main objective is to foster a close business relationship between Malaysia and China, promote Malaysia to potential Chinese investors, and work to complement Malaysian government initiatives to attract investments to Malaysia. In particular, we work closely with Consulate General office, Malaysian government agencies in Shanghai, and associations in Malaysia.

Q: How does MayCham Shanghai cope with the fast-changing China?

A: We leverage on the China market. There are opportunities and many challenges. To keep up with the fast changing pace in China, we utilize our website and e-newsletter to continually update members with new rules and regulations.

Further, we are in constant communication with other foreign chambers in Shanghai, as well as local authorities, organizations, associations and universities. We learn and understand, exchange views on the new developments in China.

We encourage members to work as a team and share information. Our members' expertise range includes banking, hotels, logistics, real estate, property development and construction, fast moving consumer goods and IT.

Q: Can you tell us about the latest business cooperation between Malaysia and China?

A: There are numerous examples leading to the increase in bilateral trade, such as ASEAN-China FTA which greatly enhances trade facilitation, mutual recognition of academic degrees, Chinese involvement in building the second Penang Bridge, Chinese involvement in the North-South Railway.

Q: Which industry in China do you think will attract more Malaysian investors?

A: Services - including food businesses, franchising, trading, retailing and tourism.

Q: China has become increasingly a source of outbound foreign investment. Which industry in Malaysia do you suggest Chinese companies invest in?

A: Chinese companies could consider the following sectors: natural resources, such as palm oil plantation and mining; manufacturing and service industries targeting the ASEAN market.

For manufacturing industry, there are resource-based and non-resource-based industries. These include food manufacturing, solar PV cluster development, machinery manufacturing, iron and steel, transport equipment, pharmaceuticals, downstream oleo chemicals, electronics and electrical products.

For service industry, there are energy efficiency, information and communications technology, logistics, hotels and tourism projects, real estate and property.

Chinese investors could also consider bond and equity investing, such as Malaysia's stock market.

Q: What are the differences of policies and regulations between the two countries that will hinder business cooperation? How can this be handled?

A: Policy differences should not hinder bilateral trade and investment between China and Malaysia.

There are constant discussions and visits by government officials to enhance trade and investment cooperation and overcome obstacles, support bilateral business promotional events and seminars, and establish contact points to facilitate businesses in each others' territories.

For example, we have the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority and MATRADE offices in China to promote investment and trade, respectively.

Q: MayCham Shanghai is a strong promoter of green and eco-friendly products. Can you describe efforts you have made in this sector?

A: We came from a country with many greeneries, nature and blue sky. We experience and appreciate a green environment.

We have numerous activities planned for the year. Other than business related events, we also participate in charity, green and eco-friendly activities including the MayCham Shanghai annual golf tournament "One World One Earth One Life 2011 Golf Tour." This project was launched four years ago with the objective to encourage environmental care among members. Incidentally, this event will be held on September 2.

We partner with charity organizations such as the Shanghai Overseas Chinese Charity Foundation. We participate in the foundation's computer recycling program.


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