Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1178, (2 - 8 January 2014)
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1178, (2 - 8 January 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Tapping the Malaysian market

Although trade volumes between Egypt and Malaysia have recently declined, this trend could soon be reversed, writes Mahmoud Bakr in Kuala Lumpur

Al-Ahram Weekly

Total trade between Egypt and Malaysia dropped by 31 per cent in the first half of 2013, compared to its level in the previous year, to reach $869 million. Tamer Mustafa, commercial attaché at the Egyptian embassy in Kuala Lumpur, told Al-Ahram Weekly that total trade between the two countries was $1.3 billion in 2012, most of which represented Egyptian imports from Malaysia.
Egypt imported $1,076 million worth of Malaysian goods but exported only $180 million. The good news, Mustafa said, was that Egyptian non-oil exports grew by 19 per cent in the first half of 2013, reaching $70 million, compared to $59 million in the first half of 2012.
During the first half of 2013, Malaysia bought reinforcing iron from Egypt for $4.5 million, phosphates for $37 million, oranges for $10 million, and dates for $5 million.
Almost half of Egypt’s imports from Malaysia over the same period were made up of Malaysian palm oil, a major component in Egyptian cooking oil. Egypt also imported petroleum-based oils, lumber, polyester thread, rubber, and electronics.
During the first half of 2013, Egyptian imports from Malaysia dropped by 33 per cent, mainly because of a drop in palm oil imports.
Egypt is seeking ways of increasing its exports to Malaysia while attracting Malaysian investment to Egypt. Officials in both countries are also discussing technical cooperation in various aspects of industry.
Egypt is especially interested in increasing agricultural exports to Malaysia. One advantage that Egypt has in this respect is that many of its food-production factories have earned halal (permitted according to Islamic law) trade certification, which may boost their market share in Islamic countries, including Malaysia.
Egyptian factories wishing to earn halal certificates can obtain a Malaysian-recognised document from the Egyptian Authority for Standards and Quality.
Mustafa said that Egyptian businessmen were also planning to start marketing campaigns to promote ceramic tiles, marble slabs, granite slabs, plumbing equipment, cements, and gypsum to meet the needs of the construction boom in Malaysia.
Egypt is also trying to learn more about Malaysia’s tourism industry, which is currently attracting 25 million visitors or so a year. Egyptian officials are particularly interested in the Malaysian experience in promoting conference and medical tourism.
Egypt is also trying to increase its software and IT services exports to Malaysia, in which Egypt’s Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA) is closely involved.
Officials in both countries are expected to sign an economic cooperation agreement in early 2013, which will focus on promoting investment, industry, tourism, agriculture, health, and education in both countries.
The Egyptian-Malaysian Business Council, which last met in January 2010, will have a wide range of topics to discuss once this agreement is signed, Mustafa said.
Technical cooperation is likely to involve training, human-resource development, small and medium-size business, and performance assessment. Egypt also has a lot to learn from Malaysia’s government transformation programme, which aims to turn Malaysia into an advanced economy by 2020.
Malaysia has staged several successful initiatives that Egypt may wish to emulate, especially in investments zones, urban planning, and recycling.
The total value of Malaysian investments in Egypt in mid 2012 stood at $59.6 million, most of which were in petroleum, palm oil, and education. Egypt, meanwhile, has $6.2 million invested in lumber, chemicals, and medical supplies in Malaysia.
Egyptian officials are talking with Malaysian companies about increasing their investment in automobiles, fertilisers, construction, energy, and infrastructure. “If everything goes well, Malaysia may take part in joint efforts to create a monorail line, build highways, and upgrade ports and airports,” Mustafa added.

add comment

  • follow us on