Central Asia has been identified as a new market for expansion and Kazakhstan as a regional hub for Malaysian exporters by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE).
According to CEO of MATRADE Mohd Mustafa Abdul Aziz, the agency is planning to strengthen the groundwork in Central Asia, mainly Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, and facilitate more connections between Malaysian exporters and buyers in these countries.
Kazakhstan and Central Asia could offer each other a lot of products and services.
Speaking about oil and gas and aerospace areas, Abdul Aziz said that Kazakhstan could contribute a lot to the bilateral trade relationships between both countries. From the other side, halal products (food and beverages, cosmetics and Islamic finance) have high potential for export to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
Electrical and electronic, rubber, agricultures, palm oil-based manufactures and palm oil-based agricultural products were Malaysia’s top five export products in 2021. They totaled $88.5 billion and accounted for 85.7 percent of the country’s total export to Kazakhstan.
Malaysia imported from Kazakhstan mainly metal manufactures, transport equipment, chemicals and chemical products, machinery, equipment and parts as well as refined petroleum products (totally $10.8 billion).
According to Abdul Aziz, Kazakhstan can become the central distribution hub for Malaysian palm oil and other products in Central Asia.
He said that it was important to look again at the opportunities available in Kazakhstan and the Central Asian region. The closure of borders in Malaysia made it impossible to undertake trade relation opportunities in that region. He added that it was necessary to be really aggressive in making Malaysia’s presence felt and heard in Kazakhstan.
MATRADE is planning to use the upcoming Kazakhstan International Building and Exhibition (KazBuild) and Kazakhstan International Oil & Gas Exhibition (KIOGE) in September 2022 as part of its strategy to explore opportunities in Central Asia.
Export missions to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in November 2022 are also planned by the Malaysian national trade promotion agency.
This way, interest from Malaysian companies to further exploration of those regions was demonstrated. MATRADE should ensure that the right companies are brought, so that they will be matched perfectly with their potential partners in both countries.
A full-fledge trade office in Almaty, Kazakhstan in 2015 and a marketing office in Tashkent, Uzbekistan in 2010 have been established by MATRADE in order to facilitate market access for Malaysia products and services in Central Asia.
Kazakh and Uzbek business communities who are keen to source from Malaysia have access to the offices. Kazakhstan’s private sector is also encouraged by MATRADE to leverage Malaysia as a strategic hub to source or distribute their products and services in ASEAN.
In 2021 Kazakhstan was Malaysia’s largest trading partner, export destination and source of imports in the Central Asia region (the 94th largest trading partner).
According to Abdul Aziz, in 2021 Malaysia’s total trade with Kazakhstan was 7.7 times higher than the total trade recorded over the past 20 years since the two countries established their bilateral relationship and totally valued at $99.3 million.
He said that the trade trends for the past 20 years had shown that trade linkages between both countries were in line with their initiatives to boost their trades with the Central Asia region, particularly with Kazakhstan.
The 30th Kazakhstan and Malaysia diplomatic relations anniversary is celebrated this month, and when the pandemic-related restrictions are lifted, high-level visits between both countries are likely to be organized to further strengthen their political, economic, and people-to-people ties.