Even though Malaysia’s economy has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic just like so many countries around the world, the Malaysian government has coped with the emergency quite quickly introducing many protective measures, states Worawan Wanwil, Minister Counsellor and Director of Thai Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“They [The Government] have a quick update of the number and rate of daily infections as well as issuing traffic control measures,” he says. “Currently, the government is using total lockdown measure to control the crisis, although it is still difficult to predict the situation as the infection rate remains high.”
With a restriction on travelling, business has turned more to online platforms which have stimulated new demand, especially in e-commerce. Some of the most popular items from Malaysian e-commerce platforms are household, health and entertainment accessories, such as kitchen equipment, online games, board games, computers, laptops and other electronic devices.
Malaysian consumers aged 20 to 39 are becoming more health conscious and increasingly welcoming innovative food and beverages. Food Industry Asia (FIA) reports that 99% are more interested in healthy food while 70% consider healthy products are expensive, says Wanwil.
As for trade between Thailand and Malaysia, the top five products in the first quarter of 2021 were: auto parts (US$386.20 million); rubber (US$238.68 million); refined oil (US$217.75; computer devices and components (US$180.58 million); and circuit boards (US$135.81 million).
“Malaysia is considered the world’s top rubber glove manufacturer,” says Wanwil. “They normally import raw latex from Thailand to produce goods for export. The greater the global demand for rubber gloves, the more positive is the prospect for Thailand’s exports of raw latex.”
The Thai Trade Center in Kuala Lumpur has adopted a ‘Deepening and Widening Business Relations’ strategy to increase Thai exports to Malaysia. First, it organises customised online business matching for Malaysian importers who already sell Thai products to its neighbor, by introducing new Thai products to the Malaysia market. This deepening of the market will help strengthen Thailand’s competitiveness with imported products from other countries. The second component is to expand the network of both Thai exporters and Malaysian importers (or widening) to increase the opportunities for business matching.
It has implemented B2B Customised Online Business Matching (COBM) with targeted high spending entrepreneurs, Hybrid In-store Promotions, and Matching with the Elites to support its strategy. The first hybrid in-store promotion was launched on May 20 and continues to June 30 in 49 stores across country. This event has already brought the sale value of Thai Products up to 20.5 million baht during its first 10-day. While Matching with the Elites will involve an online trade show adopting the ‘Mirror to Mirror’ technique in conjunction with exclusive business matching events with the top 20% of the Malaysian population, which has the greatest spending power.
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Words by Natthinee Ratanaprasidhi