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Interview with Mr. A Rashid Mohd Zain
“Matrade Seoul,” Bridges Malaysia with S. Korea
Trade Commissioner’s Efforts to Boost Bilateral Trade
Matrade's Trade Commissioner A Rashid Mohd Zain in Seoul

Trade Commissioner A Rashid Mohd Zain of Matrade, Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency, has thus far been aggressive in boosting its exports to South Korea since his arrival in Seoul a year so ago. The number of businesspeople interested in doing business in both Korea and Malaysia increased significantly during his tenure. Bilateral trade, which amounts to nearly 16 billion US dollars this year, is expected to be further developed in the years ahead. The Malaysian trade chief in Seoul met recently with The Seoul Times to reveal his 2012 plans for growth and activities in trade between Malaysia and South Korea. The following is the full text of the interview.

Q1: Thank you very much for this interview chance. First, what is mission and functions of Matrade particularly in relations to South Korea?

A1: Malaysia's national trade promotion agency, Matrade’s mission is to promote Malaysia’s export to the world market. Its role is to help Malaysian enterprises and companies to export their items and products to be sold on the international stage.

Matrade's Trade Commissioner
A Rashid Mohd Zain

And with relations to South Korea we would like to see the increase in trade between both countries. We also hope to be able to diversify export of Malaysian products and services in the Korean market. We are not merely relying on the certain products and services.

Q2: Could you please tell The Seoul Times your role here in Matrade’s Seoul Office? How long have you been serving in Seoul?

A2: My main role here is to act as conduit in linking the potential importers from Korea with the potential exporters from Malaysia. I am also a focal point for the government agency and businesspeople both from Korea and Malaysia to get information about matters pertaining to doing business with both nations.

I reported duty here on Dec. 28, 2010. So, on Dec. 28, 2011 will be my one year of my stay and serving in Korea.

Q3: How important is the South Korean market to Matrade? How many Malaysian corporations are involved in South Korean market? Specifically, which sectors of South Korean market are particularly important?

A3: South Korea is very important market for Malaysia. Record from the past shows that the trade between two countries has been steadily increasing. Total trade during the first 11 months of this year is valued at 15 billion US dollars, showing an increase of 5.7 percent from last year.

Mr. A Rashid Mohd Zain (center) in event

South Korea is a supplier of electronics for Malaysia and it’s also Malaysia’s important market of natural oil and gas. Malaysian electronic parts such as integrated circuits and semiconductors are also important export items to Korea. Electronics take up 20 percent of Malaysia’s export to Korea.

With regard to export, thousands of Malaysian companies have already had experience exporting to Korea. The number is increasing from time to time which shows the opportunity exist in Korea for Malaysian company to tap on.

Sectors that are particularly important are electronics, palm oil, rubber products, and wooden products.

Q4: What are the problems and obstacles to be tackled before you further promote the Malaysian export to the local Korean market?

Matrade's Trade Commissioner
A Rashid Mohd Zain in interview with The Seoul Times

A4: In my opinion the issue that we need to tackle before we could enter the Korea market would be on the product capacity and consistency in the supply as well as on the need for Malaysian companies to adhere to the requirements or preference from buyers in Korea. To succeed in any market abroad we have to be ready with these requirements.

Q5: What are your plans to even more enhance the role of Matrade in South Korean market?

A5: My basic plan for the future is to be more active with Matrade works, to undertake more promotion programs and to broaden the networking. I also have to be more creative in my work which I believe would benefit at the end of the day.

We plans to focus on areas such as manufacturing support industry, lifestyle industries, and automotive industries, particularly in aftermarket sector covering parts, components and accessories, tools, equipment electronics, and care products and services.

We also will put emphasis on electrical information and communication technology industries including E&E components, E&E consumer & industrial products, telecommunication products & services, and ICT products & services. (see detailed plans in Q8 and A8)

Q6: What was your role with Matrade before you were posted to your current post in Seoul?

Matrade's Trade Commissioner A Rashid Mohd Zain (4th from left) poses with others in a seminar held earlier in 2011.

A6: I was with Corporate Affair Division before my posting to Seoul. Prior to that I was posted to Matrade’s Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. I worked there for four years.

Q7: How long have you involved yourself in trade or businesses for your country? When and how did you become government official in this area?

A7: I have been with Matrade for 13 years and with Cooperative Commission for 11 years. So all together I have served in the government for 24 years.

Q8: How would you judge and evaluate the overall trade relations between Malaysia and South Korea? What needs to be done for better and more trade ties between the two nations?

Matrade's Trade Commissioner
A Rashid Mohd Zain

A8: The trade between two nations is significant. The trade value between South Korea and Malaysia has steadily increased by an average of 7.4 percent during the last five years. Since 2001, the trade between the two countries has been more than doubled with yearly trade value amounting to more than 15 billion US dollars.

Matrade Seoul will undertake active promotion in the year 2012 to enhance the trade ties between South Korea and Malaysia by organizing and getting involved in various events and activities and expanding out networking to work more closely and intensely with Korean business community.

My plans are actually more on promoting, undertaking the publicity and A&P work on Matrade especially on events that will be undertaken by “Matrade in 2012.” All the major events and programs are as follow:

Participation in “Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS)”

The first event in the year 2010 will be “Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS)” to be held at Kuala Lumpur Exhibition Centre in Malaysia from April 4-7, 2011. Website:

It is an exhibition on Halal products and services. Halal is not only confined to food but other products too, such as banking, logistic, services industry etc.

In conjunction with MIHAS, there will be In Buying Mission (IBM) program where buyers from all over the world are invited to take part in one-to-one business meeting program (business matching program).

To encourage participation Matrade will give the following incentives:
1) free accommodations (normally about four nights), 2) free transportation arrangement from airport to hotel and to the trade fair and business meeting venues, 3) lunch during the business meeting program, and 4) a well-organized one-to-one meeting arrangement.

More than 550 buyers attended this event in this year (2011). A total of 15 companies from South Korea attended the event. It is a great growth in the number compared to years before. It has shown a significant growth in the number compared to years before and Korean companies has a great interest in the Malaysian products and services.

We expect more companies will attend the 2012 programs. And we encourage companies in Korea to take part as exhibitors in MIHAS. Please visit the MIHAS website for more details.

Matrade Center in Kuala Lumpur

Participation in International Exhibition on Environmental Technology and Green Energy (ENVEX)

Matrade Seoul will open promotion booths during ENVEX to be held at Seoul’s COEX from June 11 to June 14, 2012.

It is an exhibition on renewable energy (bio-fuel), green building materials, biomass, eco-friendly packaging, energy efficiency appliances, and waste management and recycling. This is a good venue for companies in Korea to know more about Malaysian business players and exporters in this sector.

Participation in International Materials & Components Industry Show (IMAC)

Matrade Seoul will open promotion booth during “IMAC 2012” to be held at KINTEX in Ilsan Gyeonggi-do, South Korea from June 13 to June 16, 2012.

It is an exhibition on industrial components and materials including chemicals. This will be a good opportunity for companies in Korea to get to know more about Malaysian suppliers on these products.

Participation of 3 Malaysian Companies in ASEAN Food & Beverage Exhibition in Korea 2012

The exhibition on food and beverage will be a good occasion to join in trade promotion between ASEAN countries and Korea under ASEAN Korea Centre (AKC) program slated for Nov. 6-9, 2012.

Each ASEAN member countries are invited to take part. Korean companies will get more acquainted with Malaysian business players and exporters of food and beverage through this event.

International Trade Exhibition (INTRADE 2012)
The exhibition on general products will be held at Kuala Lumpur Exhibition Centre in Malaysia on Nov. 27-29, 2012.

The Petronas Towers (also known as the Petronas Twin Towers) are skyscrapers and twin towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

During INTRADE, there will be In Buying Mission (IBM) program where buyers from all over the world flew to Kuala Lumpur to take part in the one-to-one business meeting program.

To encourage participation Matrade will provide the incentive similar to the MIHAS In Buying Mission program above. Close to 600 buyers attended this event in this year (2011). 14 South Korean companies attended the event, which shows that an increasing number of Korea companies are becoming interested in Malaysian products and services.

We expect more companies will attend the 2012 programs and we encourage companies in Korea to take part as exhibitors in INTRADE.

Trade & Investment Mission on July 9-12, 2012 in Seoul and Busan, Korea

About 40 delegates comprising companies related to investment promotion, manufactures, exporters, and trading companies are expected to attend the program to be lead by Minister of International Trade and Industry, Malaysia. This will also be a good chance for Korean businesses to discuss on doing business with Malaysian companies.

Sarawak Timber Trade and Investment Seminar 2012

“Sarawak Timber Trade and Investment Seminar” will be held on Jan. 11, 2012. The seminar will be held at Lotte Hotel in Seoul at 9:30 in the morning followed by lunch and business meeting. Businesspeople who are interested to participate in this seminar could give your particulars to MATRADE Seoul. Walk in participants are also encourage.

This seminar is organised in conjunction with the Sarawak Investment and Timber Selling Mission to Seoul from Jan. 10 to Jan. 15, 2012 to promote trade and investment opportunities in timber and non-timber related industries in Sarawak to potential buyers and investors in Korea.

The Mission of about 50 member delegation will be led by the Honorable Datuk Amar Haji Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Second Minister of Resource Management and Environment, Minister of Public Utilities, Minister of Industrial Development, Sarawak cum Chairman of STIDC Board of Management.

Malaysan Participation in Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea

Expo 2012 Yeosu Korea brings the world together in May, 2012 to celebrate “The Living Oceans & Coasts.” Malaysia, as an official participating nation, has been allocated a space on the third floor of the International Pavilion.

Malaysia will stand out with its theme
“Malaysia’s Biodiversity Heaven: A Gift from Nature.” This theme captures Malaysia’s rich biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial, and also its multicultural harmony, unique in the world.

The Malaysia Pavilion takes the visitor through a conceptual journey from under the sea to the land above, matching, at every step along the way, Yeosu’s needs with world-class answers from Malaysia. Answers like the world’s best managed mangrove forest, the world’s largest Chengal tree, a multicultural and multiracial harmony unrivalled in the world, and so on.

About Matrade:

Malaysia External Trade Development Corp. (Matrade) chief executive officer Dr. Wong Lai Sum

Matrade is Malaysia's national trade promotion agency. Marade stands for Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation. Under the purview of Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Matrade’s mission is to promote Malaysia’s export of goods and services to the world market.

The government agency enables many local Malaysian companies to carve new frontiers in global markets. Its role is to Malaysian enterprises and companies to exports their items and products to be sold on the international stage.

It also helps make the phrase "Made-In-Malaysia" synonymous with excellence, reliability, and trustworthiness.

Thus, its vision is to positioning Malaysia as a globally competitive trading nation

As aforementioned, Matrade’s mission is to develop and promote Malaysia’s export to the world. Matrade’s roles and functions are numerous.

It primary function is to promote, assist, and develop Malaysia’s external trade with particular emphasis on the export of manufactured and semi-manufactured products.

It also formulates and implements a national export marketing strategy to promote the export of manufactured and semi-manufactured products.

Matrade’s role is to undertake commercial intelligence and market research and create a comprehensive database of information to enhance and develop trade.

It also organizes various training programs to improve the international marketing skills of the Malaysian exporters.

Matrade enhances and protects Malaysia’s international trade interests abroad. It also represents Malaysia in any international forum in any matters related to trade. Trade-related service areas are also included to be developed, promoted, facilitated, and assisted by Matrade.

The Malaysia’s national trade promotion agency sometimes advises the Malaysian government on matters affecting or in any way connected with trade. It acts as the agent of the government or for any person, body, or organization on such matters.

Matrade also have a variety of objectives. They include raising the profile of Malaysian exporters in foreign markets, disseminating timely and relevant information and market intelligence so as to assist Malaysian enterprises and companies gain a competitive edge in foreign markets..

Other objectives are also to introduce Malaysian companies to foreign importers seeking Malaysian suppliers and to undertake activities to promote the export of Malaysian goods and services in overseas markets.

Matrade is also actively involved in assisting foreign companies to source for suppliers of Malaysian products and services, and is represented worldwide at 45 locations in major commercial cities including Seoul. Matrade’s Seoul Office is headed by Mr. A Rashid Mohd Zain, its trade commissioner.

In Malaysia, The national trade promotion agency has five local branches in Penang, Terengganu, Johor, Sabah, and Sarawak.

Matrade Seoul

Matrade's Trade Commissioner A Rashid Mohd Zain in its Seoul office poses with his staff.

Matrade’s Seoul's is located in downtown Seoul, boasts of its optimum location for its easy and comfortable accessibility for the possible customers.

Mr. Rashid role there is to promote his office primarily. He takes great efforts for facilitating companies in South Korea. His tasks also include importing products and services from Malaysia.

Matrade Seoul Office functions as trade and investment section of the Malaysian Embassy in Seoul. He and others enjoy diplomatic status, accordingly.

Since his inauguration as Malaysian Embassy’s trade chief a year ago he has been highly active in promoting export of Malaysian products and services to buyers in the local Korean market.

For any matters pertaining to importing products and services once can contact Matrade Seoul. Trade inquiries from Korean companies can be made by calling or visiting its office.

Matrade Seoul Office is on the 17th floor of SC First Bank Building, Gongpyong-dong 100, Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea (Zip Code: 110-702). It can be reached at 739-6813. And Mr. A Rashid Mohd Zain’s Email is
Its website is






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