Tan Sri Lim Gait Tong
By Rosemarie Khoo Mohd Sani
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 (Bernama) – Malaysia should capitalise its strong position in ASEAN to garner more trade with China as the country with 1.3 billion population opens up its suburban and rural market for more commerce.
China-ASEAN Business Association (CABA) president Tan Sri Lim Gait Tong said China’s trade with ASEAN has grown tremendously with the region emerging as the biggest exporter to the country, overtaking the US.
“We need to devise and execute new strategies and while China-ASEAN trade will take a new impetus, ASEAN countries will have to focus on intra-ASEAN trade as well as opening up new trade opportunities including export to other Asian countries and African countries,” he told Bernama.
Total trade volume between China and ASEAN hit a record high of US$587.87 billion last year, up 14.1 per cent from 2017.
He believed trade between China and ASEAN would experience further growth and exceed the US$1 trillion trade threshold.
However, he cautioned that although trade is on the upswing for ASEAN, it does not mean it would remain positive throughout especially if trade disputes between the US and China escalate further.
“Due to our strong relationship with China, we are cautiously optimistic that the trade, as well as investments, will continue to grow,” he said.
Meanwhile, as resolutions to the trade war between Washington and Beijing remains remote for the time being, Malaysia suggested Lim, should focus on strengthening its innovation base.
“We have been doing OEM for countries like Taiwan and Japan for a long time. I believe that it is time for the country to build its own brand image,” he said.
He added that as an example, the furniture market has great potential to grow further especially in the European market if local innovation is prioritised.
“This is because, we can get more value if the product is innovated and created by us compared to OEM,” he added.