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‘Meet the Faces Behind the Places’ Interview for January 2010

Capacity the key when choosing trading partners

South Australian businesses looking to import or export products should consider carefully the capacities of their potential trading partners, says Australia Malaysia Business Council SA Chapter President, Sathish Dasan.

‘Good business is based on each side of a transaction feeling comfortable with one another. One of the key ways that the AMBC adds value to trading relationships is to provide a vetting and recommendation service for businesses’ says Dasan.

‘Too often a lot of money is spent by Australian firms on marketing in South East Asian countries and you really get nowhere because the partners don’t have the capacity to build the relationship. They are looking for opportunities but may not be set up for export, for example. Capacity questions are very important to us. We are not going to put people in touch with businesses that are not thoroughly ready to import or export. Aside from the AMBC’s extensive direct relationships with industry we also have a particularly good relationship with the Malaysian government. We work with their trade arm, the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority, to match Australian businesses with Malaysian ones that we know are bona fide.’

Businesses trading with Malaysia may encounter very few other problems. ‘There are not so many legal and regulatory hurdles. The Malaysian legal system is very good and the government is eager to accommodate trade. Malaysia has a strong export emphasis and, since the global financial crisis hit, the government has been looking to strengthen its global opportunities. There has been a focus on shifting from a largely manufacturing-oriented economy to a services- and information-focused one. High-tech and green technologies have seen massive government investment and support, including chip technologies, fibre optics, water optimization, photovoltaic technology and associated infrastructure. In general, they are looking for new ideas, and they are prepared to back those new ideas.’

The Malaysian government has indeed backed its policies with on-the-ground action, with the object of developing the nation’s export potential. ‘We know for a fact that the Malaysian government has put aside a billion ringgit for investment in these technology areas, available to foreign, including Australian, companies. The Malaysian government even announced a few months ago that they would look at the taxation-free status of visitors who collaborate with Malaysian companies in these fields.’

The AMBC has also been a dynamic supporter of trade between South Australia and Malaysia. ‘The people involved in the AMBC have very strong relationships with accounting, business management, law firms and others in Malaysia so we make a lot of introductions for Australian firms wanting to do business there. At the moment we are looking at convincing Malaysia Airlines to increase the number of flights to a daily service between Kuala Lumpur and Australia, as well as encouraging the South Australian government to do as the Victorians have done and set up a trade office in Kuala Lumpur. There are also currently huge opportunities for tourism from Malaysia, especially given the large number of Malaysian students who study here, and we want to encourage that. I’m happy to say that we have a tremendous amount of support from Malaysia; South Australia should leverage from that. Australia has been trading with Malaysia for a very long time now, and South Australia has benefited from this relationship enormously.’

‘Very soon we will receive a visit from the Malaysian Ambassador, and we look forward to discussing Malaysia’s involvement in the OzAsia Festival with him, a suggestion that originated from Hieu Van Le and Stephen Gautier. Adelaide is the festival city, after all, and it’s important to facilitate cultural, as well as business-focused exchanges.’

The views expressed in ‘Meet the Faces’ Interviews are those of the interviewee and are not guaranteed by CITCSA. Please seek expert advice before acting on the information given here.

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