News From : DagangHalal.com (24 Aug 2010)
MUMBAI, Aug 23 (Bernama) — If Malaysia plays its cards well, it can easily foray into India’s huge market which has developed an insatiable appetite for good quality products from Malaysia and other Asian countries.
“It is quite easy to identify buyers in India. It is more of a challenge finding the right suppliers in Malaysia,” said Mumbai-based Malaysian Trade Commissioner Noraslan Hadi Abdul Kadir in an interview with Bernama.
Noraslan, whose office covers a huge jurisdiction consisting of several states in India, in addition to neighbouring countries Pakistan and Afghanistan, said he had charted out a “road map” for promoting industries in which Malaysia has its traditional strengths.
Some of the product categories in which Malaysia commands a strong position, include electronic and electric products, crude petroleum, chemicals and chemical products, palm oil, sawn logs and timber.
These products constitute the bulk of Malaysian exports to India, accounting for some 76.2 per cent of Malaysia’s offtake to India in the first six months of 2010.
Noraslan said Malaysian furniture stood a good chance of making a mark in the Indian market.
However, India itself is a major manufacturer of furniture but it is not able to satisfy the growing demand in the domestic market.
Noraslan also contended Malaysian food products would be appreciated by India’s teeming consumers, particularly the cash-rich middle-class whose hunger for foreign food products is ubiquitous.
One needs to just enter the proliferating number of supermarkets in the country to notice that shelves are well stocked with foreign food products.
However, Malaysian food product exporters would be well-advised to shed their fixation on the halal attribute of their products because this characteristic hardly matters in India and, also, in many other countries of the West.
By harping incessantly on the halal characteristics of their products, Malaysian suppliers tend to alienate themselves from mainstream consumers.
The halal certification, which is appreciated mainly by Muslim consumers, particularly in Middle East countries, and also by minorities in some Western countries, can create misunderstanding amongst non-Muslim consumers who may associate such products with religion.
As a result, Malaysian suppliers can lose an important market constituency of mainstream consumers.
In India, the vegetarian label matters more than halal.
India has the world’s largest vegetarian population which is inherent with a huge business potential for Malaysian food suppliers.
Vegetarianism is also growing in the West where consumers are becoming increasingly health conscious and taking a more humane approach to the treatment of animals.
This is amply evident at leading food trade shows where many Asian suppliers make it a point to highlight the vegetarian attributes of their products.
Malaysians can learn a lesson or two from suppliers from Singapore, Thailand and even the United Arab Emirates who are making the right noises about the attributes of their products to suit the idiosyncrasies of a market.
Malaysian suppliers stand to benefit by classifying food products as “vegetarian” or “non-vegetarian” for the Indian market.
According to Matrade office in Mumbai, two-way trade between India and Malaysia during the January-June 2010 period amounted to RM13.809 billion, up 10.77 per cent over the same period last year.
Malaysia’s exports to India rose 18.28 per cent to RM10.033 billion while imports increased 5.21 per cent to RM3.775 billion.
The five major import product categories from India were manufactures of metal, chemicals and chemical products, electrical and electronic products, live animals and meat, and cereals.
These five product categories accounted for 53.2 per cent of Malaysia’s imports from India.
Despite the widespread poverty amongst those who remain untouched by the dynamic economic growth, India’s economy is doing extremely well and is poised to grow between 8.0 and 8.5 per cent, according to Indian experts.
The entrepreneurial energy, so ubiquitously visible in the sprawling city of Mumbai, India’s financial capital nestled at the Arabian Sea, bears testimony to the growth that is becoming commonplace here but is also turning others in the region, particularly neighbouring Pakistan, green with envy.
Noraslan explained that his office has been instrumental in matchmaking Indian and Malaysian companies wanting to partner in projects or simply in trade.
“We arrange one-on-one business meetings for which we can offer our premises, if needed, or hold them at external venues.
We also take selected Indian companies to trade fairs in Malaysia,” he added.
“I’ll be taking a group of corporate representatives to Malaysia in November to attend the Intrade exhibition being organised by Matrade.
This is a general exhibition of Malaysian products. There is a positive perception of Malaysian products in India.
Indeed, instead of me approaching buyers, I am more likely to be approached by the buyers enquiring about sourcing their products from Malaysia.”
Noraslan sees a “very close cultural similarities” between India and Malaysia and that is also the reason why he “feels very much at home in Mumbai”.
“Remember, our Prime Minister (Najib) made it a point as the first Malaysian leader to call on the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu during his visit to India this year,” he emphasised.
The Malaysian Trade Commissioner also confirmed that an “important Malaysian company” is currently negotiating with an Indian company to form a joint-venture in the chemical business.
Another Malaysian company has entered into a joint-venture with an Indian company to implement a low-cost housing project in the West African country of Senegal.
Traffic by politicians and other leading figures in both directions is increasing.
Indian Commerce Minister Anand Shrma led a business delegation to Malaysia in July.
An important vehicle created to promote bilateral trade and business is the Malaysian-Indian Business Council which held a seminar on July 8 in Kuala Lumpur during Sharma’s visit.
Meanwhile, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, accompanied by a large delegation with a strong business component, is also scheduled to visit Malaysia in October in reciprocation to Najib’s visit early this year.
After already making two visits to India this year, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamad will visit India again in November.
He will lead a delegation to Delhi, Mumbai, Pune and Hyderabad with the aim of intensifying economic and business ties with India.
A business executive involved in Malaysia’s IT sector described the pace of business as “rush hour traffic” between India and Malaysia.