Policy direction on e-commerce trade with China in the works

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on November 8, 2017.
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KUALA LUMPUR: Stressing the need for Malaysia to come out with a clear policy direction for e-commerce trading with China, Second International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan said his ministry will immediately work on it.

“In order to facilitate and boost the e-commerce trading for both the countries, the government needs to have a clear policy direction for the e-commerce trading goods, especially on custom clearance,” said Ong.

“We will work on it immediately and hope to come out with something concrete by the first half of next year (1H18),” he told a press conference after launching Mini E-Commerce Forum, in conjunction with a courtesy visit by China’s Vice Minister of Commerce Wang Bingnan yesterday.

China, meanwhile, is also keen to establish a bilateral e-commerce cooperation mechanism with Malaysia.

“We could consider signing a memorandum on e-commerce cooperation between our two countries to set up a mechanism for regular policy communication and coordination so that we could open up a new chapter for our mutually beneficial cooperation and co-development in e-commerce,” Wang said in his speech at the event.

Ong, in response to that, said: “We need to sit down with them (China) to zero down all the barriers that need to be cleared before signing the MoU (memorandum of understanding).”

Among the areas to be further discussed, he said, are medical and healthcare products, as well as food items.

Meanwhile, in conjunction with One Belt, One Road initiative, Ong said China expects to import about US$2 trillion worth of goods from participating countries, including Malaysia, within five years starting from this year.

“[There are] a lot of food items which are not produced in China, so we can export such items to China. For instance, palm oil, fruits, bird’s nest and other edible items,” he said, adding that Malaysia cannot afford to lose the Chinese market as it is very important.

For 1H17, trade with China expanded by 28% to RM139.32 billion, with a 41.2% surge in exports to RM59.79 billion, due to higher exports of electrical and electronic products, petroleum products, chemicals and chemical products, rubber products as well as liquefied natural gas.

Imports from China increased by 19.6% to RM79.53 billion, according to Malaysia’s external trade statistics published in August.