MANILA, Philippines - Malaysia, an economy that is expanding from its agricultural and manufacturing roots, is exploring opportunities in the services sector and is intent on pursuing opportunities in emerging segments such as biotechnology, technology and design.
To sustain growth, Malaysia is diversifying its economy by promoting services to neighboring countries such as Philippines, Vietnam and Cambodia.
''Malaysia intends to provide business solutions to the Philippine market through innovation with green practices, relative to the concept of going green and being environmentally friendly. Highlights include sustainable growth for future businesses thru innovative trends in emerging segments, namely Biotechnology, Food, Industrial Products, Technology and Design,'' says Embassy of Malaysia Trade Office (Matrade) Commissioner Har Man Ahmad.
Some of the biotechnology products and services offered by Malaysia are mechanisms for paper recycling, healing properties of virgin coconut oil, eco-friendly paints, as well as soaps and deodorizers made from palm kernel.
Palm oil exports have taken a substantial growth in the Philippines, capturing a major part of the demand for the local market. The Malaysian palm oil industry currently supplies around 85 percent of the Philippines' demand for oils and fats.
Malaysia, as one of the pioneers in Halal promotions and development, plays a significant role in addressing the increasing demand for Halal products and services in the Philippine market, sought for its high grade reliability on quality and cleanliness. Halal compliant products in the country reach a wide base of multicultural consumers with an increased awareness on the benefits of Halal and are considered very promising and lucrative when it comes to opportunities in this emerging market.
In terms of industrial services, Malaysia is offering green technology services such as solutions for recycling of rainwater and clinical waste, as well as solutions for creating clean energy.
It is also introducing innovative products such as intelligent patient beds, medical equipments and practical solutions when it comes to healthcare.
On the technology side, Malaysian industries are offering electric motorcycles and groundwork services for digital hospitals.
''Malaysian companies adapt good business practises and they are aware that the key aspects to maintain the loyalty of customers in the Philippines include price competitiveness, high quality products, good service, marketing, adherence to international standards, ease of doing business, product reliability and efficiency in production and delivery,'' says Ahmad.
Malaysia's trade relations with the Philippines is largely governed by the implementation of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement which eliminates tariffs on a broad range of products or reduce them to five percent as of 2010.
Ahmad says this trade system is sufficient for trade relations between Malaysia and the Philippines.
''The terms of trade relationship between the Philippines and Malaysia is congruent to the agreement in the ASEAN. At this point, it is more on how we could both encourage each other to increase the volume and value of bilateral trade to better enhance productivity and cooperation between ourselves,'' he says.
As of 2011, top imports of the Philippines from Malaysia are semiconductors, amounting to $690 million, and mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials amounting to $281 million. Imports of plastics in primary and non-primary forms were valued at $154 million in 2011. Philippines' imports from Malaysia stood at $2.6 billion, up from $2.5 billion in 2010.
Philippines' top exports to Malaysia, meanwhile, are semiconductors amounting to $447 million, and petroleum products valued at $56 million. Exports of products for electronic data processing were valued at $48 million in 2011.
Ahmad says that to maintain patronage of Malaysian products, companies strive to implement cost-effective pricing, regular product update on standards, new technology and innovation, efficiency in production, reliability to meet market demands, and good service.
''Matrade consistently finds opportunities for collaboration in the Philippine and matches the Malaysian companies to the most appropriate business counterparts in the Philippines to gain mutual cooperation and productive business relations'' Ahmad says.