Wednesday, April 11, 2012







Assalamualaikum W.B.T and Salam 1Malaysia.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.

Mr Ibrahim Al Janahi, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority;

Mr Adil Al Zarooni, Senior Vice President Global Sales, Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority;

Yang Berusaha En Mohd Shukri Abdullah, Chief Executive Officer of MIHAS Secretariat;

Tan Sri-Tan Sri, Dato-Dato’,

Members of the Media,

Honourable guests,

First and foremost, I would like to extend my heartfelt appreciation to Mr Ibrahim al Janahi, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA), for his willingness to grace today’s significant occasion. Your presence this afternoon is a clear indication of the commitment of one of the world’s biggest port authorities in developing and nurturing local Malaysian businesses onto the international marketplace.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to all participants of this timely half-day seminar. This event is indeed appropriate given the fact that the West Asia region constitutes a sizeable share of the global consumer demand and also a major source of potential investment.

Distinguished guests,

Malaysian exports to the West Asia region expanded 15.1% to RM28.06 billion in 2011, accounting for approximately 4% of Malaysia's total exports to the world. Malaysia's biggest export market in West Asia is the United Arab Emirates (UAE), buying approximately RM12.86 billion worth of Malaysian goods throughout 2011.

This is followed by Saudi Arabia (RM3.97 billion), Turkey (RM3.09 billion), Iran (RM3.21 billion) and Kuwait (RM1.06 billion). Together, these five countries make up over 86% of Malaysia's total exports to West Asia.

Other markets which showed large increases in exports include Oman (RM728.5 million) and Qatar (RM559.7 million). Electrical and electronics (E&E) products, palm oil, jewellery, chemicals and chemical products as well as machinery, appliances and parts were Malaysia's major export products to the region.

This trade surge shows not only the improving quality of Malaysian offerings to be at par with the world’s best, it is also indicative of the promotional efforts played by Government-related agencies as well as the important role Malaysian companies are playing in expanding potential markets.

Despite these trade promotion efforts the Government also realises the need for a viable platform for Malaysian producers, traders and service providers to launch into the Middle East as well as the North African region known as the MENA region.

It is heartening to note that the relationship between Malaysia and these regions and UAE in particular has deepened over the years to include not just bilateral trade and commerce but also cooperation in various related fields including political, economic, scientific and cultural areas.

Indeed, Malaysia regards the UAE as an important trading partner and a source of potential investment. Therefore, it isn’t a surprise that since 2008, the UAE has become Malaysia’s biggest trading partner among the GCC countries. A number of UAE companies have invested in Malaysia including Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Mubadala, Limitless LLC and ADIA-to mention but a few.

Malaysia continues to aggressively promote trade through participation in Gulfood Dubai, Big Five, and other specialised trade missions/exhibitions.

Tourism is another sector where Malaysia has been promoting itself through participation in the Arab Travel Mart held in Dubai; Dive Middle East; Gulf Incentive & Business Travel and many other tourism related events. Malaysia is also attempting to draw in medical tourism and promote Malaysia as an education hub to Middle Eastern professionals.

To sustain Malaysia's growth exports in 2012, MITI will intensify export promotion programmes in the MENA Region. In addition, special projects targeting new and high value exports especially those identified under the National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) will be undertaken to niche and affluent markets within West Asia.

However for these types of programmes to generate exports for the country, it is important for the private sector to participate actively in these events and projects to promote their products and services to the international market.

Brothers and Sisters,

It is through such initiatives as this JAFZA S\seminar today that we hope to see greater participation by export-oriented Malaysian companies into the Middle East. Surely the large number of global Fortune 500 companies having existing presence at JAFZA is indicative enough of its inherent strengths and unique selling propositions in enlarging the bottom line of any companies, be it large multinational conglomerates or even small and medium-sized industries (SMEs).

I sincerely believe that there are numerous viable Malaysian producers and service providers out there that have similar or even higher industry accreditations as their international counterparts. For one, not only do they possess the usual international standards such as ISO, TUV or BRC, but they are also certified halal with the Malaysian Halal standard, making penetration to the Muslim majority countries within the Middle East desirable.

In this regard, continued partnership between JAFZA and MIHAS as the world's largest halal trade fair could prove vital in ensuring the steady supply of viable export-oriented halal-certified companies which are all keen in expanding their operations into the Middle East.

Furthermore, The Malaysian Government is appreciative of the large presence of almost 6,000 Malaysians in the UAE today. Since many are professionals working with foreign and local companies, they play an important role in strengthening the people-to-people relationship between our two countries and in promoting Malaysia as a brand.

Thus, before I take my leave, I would like to once again thank Mr Ibrahim Al Janari, Deputy CEO of JAFZA and the MIHAS Secretariat for making this positive event a reality. Ours is a long-term and mutually beneficial business relationship that I hope will grow stronger.

I would also like to take this opportunity on behalf of MIHAS Secretariat to call upon the JAFZA management team to survey all the openings and opportunities that is prevalent at MIHAS 2012. With over 400 exhibitors from 32 countries and over 16,000 quality visitors from 70 countries, MIHAS has indeed firmly placed itself and Malaysia as the ideal platform to facilitate the sourcing and selling of quality halal consumables, products and services globally.

Finally, I would like to bid all local participants a warm thank you for taking the time to come today and wish that JAFZA and MIHAS 2012 which will begin tomorrow would provide a lucrative and fruitful outing for you and your company.

To all our distinguished guests and members of the media, thank you again for your kind presence and we look forward to your continued support in the coming years, Insha Allah.

Assalamualaikum WBT and thank you.

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