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Mustapa’s fruitful trade mission to India

[ 14-02-2014 ]
Mustapa’s fruitful trade mission to India

IF the Shriram EPC Ltd management had known how easy it was to do business in Malaysia, it would have come to Malaysia a long time ago, a senior manager commented.

Prashant Pandarungan, an assistant general manager of Chennai-based Shriram EPC, said he was impressed when he heard about the ease of doing business in Malaysia from Indian businessmen during a seminar organised by the International Trade and Industry Ministry’s agencies.

He said he was pleasantly surprised when his company was invited for a one-on-one meeting with International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed during the latter’s working visit to India.

He said he had informed Mustapa about the visa issue facing Indian citizens coming to Malaysia.

“The minister immediately offered multiple-entry visas for 10 people (from Shriram EPC)!” said Prashant, who was delighted when met after his meeting with Mustapa in Chennai last week.

“The minister is so hands-on and understands a lot of things… you know that you’re in the right hands. I feel pretty confident and know that the country will help me and my business,” he added.

While he was talking to the Malaysian media, an officer from the Malaysian Consulate passed him a form that left Prashant thrilled.

“I was telling the minister about downloading the form for the setting up of a representative office in Malaysia, and I am handed one the spot”.

Shriram EPC, an engineering solutions company, is part of the US$9 billion (RM29.88 billion) public-listed Shriram Group.

It is seeking Malaysian partners for engineering projects in Malaysia as well as overseas.

Feedbacks from Indian companies attending the Business Opportunities Seminars, which were held in Bangalore and Chennai, were also positive.

During a question-and-answer session with Mustapa in Bangalore, one of the Indian businessmen said although Malaysia ranked sixth in “Ease of Doing Business” in the World Bank’s report, he believed it should clinch the top spot.

More than 150 people attended the seminar.

A participant at the seminar in Chennai said he has a business in Malaysia for many years now and found the country to be business-friendly and the easiest place to conduct his business.

He added that he plans to substantially expand his business in Malaysia.

It is understood that a few countries such as Belgium and South Korea has held trade and investment seminars in India regularly, but the one organised by Malaysia last week was the most successful, having attracted a turnout of nearly 300 people.

While it is possible for business discussions and deals to be made between people staying thousands of miles away in today’s world, nothing can beat direct interactions and networking between the investors and the businessmen.

This is what the small and medium enterprise (SME)-based trade and investment mission, led by Mustapa, has hoped to achieve when it set off for India a week ago.

Its destinations were second-tier cities there, namely Pune, Bangalore and Chennai. Its main objective was to seek opportunities and potential partners in the automotive, mechanical engineering, information communication technology, and oil and gas sectors.

SME Corp Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Hafsah Hashim said the SMEs in the delegation have had fruitful discussions.

She said previously, the trade missions organised by the ministry were investment-driven but this time around, it was focused on the SMEs.

The trade mission to India gave good exposure to the SMEs and had doors opened to them.

Recognising the importance of SME sector,the Malaysia-India CEO Forum (Miceof), which also met with Mustapa’s trade mission to India, also accepted Hafsah as a member.

Hafsah, who was part of the 30-strong delegation, said Malaysia is seen as a leader in the SME space and many countries are observing how Malaysia implements initiatives under the SME Masterplan (2012-2020) to boost productivity and innovation-led growth among the SMEs.

“The world is watching us. I spoke at the Malaysia-India CEO Forum and the participants said they have never seen a SME Masterplan anywhere in the world,” said Hafsah, who had previously presented the masterplan at Switzerland’s House of Parliament and the United Kingdom’s House of Lords.

Meanwhile, Mustapa, speaking to Malaysian journalists in Chennai, said although the committed investment by Indian businesses during the trade mission was not large, its spin-off will be huge, and the networking among businessmen from both sides will go a long way.