International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking recently concluded a trade mission to South America, with the Malaysian delegation strengthening economic ties with Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
I had the great honour of accompanying the minister and MITI officials throughout the trade mission, along with senior counterparts from the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) and the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), both sister agencies of Malaysia Automotive Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) under MITI.
These South American economies have a lot in common with Malaysia.
The first stop was Santiago, Chile, one of the most competitive economies in Latin America, where the Malaysian delegation connected with the Chile-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce (CAMCHIMAL) and Chamber of Automotive Parts and Components (CAREP).
The meetings explored the opportunities to improve trade and investment relations in various sectors including automotive, ICT mobility solutions, and Internet of Things (IoT) sectors.
An important outcome of the Chilean round is that both countries agreed to organise a high impact showcase of each other's strengths and capabilities in automotive component design and production in Chile by the end of this year.
The next leg of the trade mission was Buenos Aires, Argentina - Malaysia's third largest trading partner in the South American continent.
During the visit, the trade mission spent time with Argentina’s Production and Labour Minister, Dante Enrique Sica, on possible collaborations in the areas of Industry 4.0, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and automotive parts and components.
The next round of talks were held in Brasilia and Sao Paulo, Brazil - a nation with a large market size and sophisticated business community.
It is important to note that many opportunities exist from the similarities between Malaysia and the largest country in this region, particularly in the trade of automotive parts and components, as well as new opportunities in the remanufacturing sector.
Overall, the trade mission was an eye-opener to the similarities and aspirations our nations have in developing our respective economies.
As one of strongest proponents of connected mobility in our region, the possible connection between our two countries across the South Pacific poses new opportunities for Malaysia - with interest growing in the region for partnerships and collaborations in new technology areas.
Malaysia also sits in a geographically as a gateway for automotive trade directly across the South Pacific Ocean. The inflow and outflow of products and services along this route allows for new value chains to be built and developed between the ASEAN and LATAM regional markets.
For example, the 4R2S standards - the first of its kind in the world - was introduced through MARii in 2016 for the governance and implementation of repair, reuse, recycle, remanufacture, services and spare parts within the automotive sector. This creates new opportunities in the areas of awareness, consultation and certification of such standards within the global markets.
The growing connectivity sector opens up new avenues for business in the emerging Mobility-as-a-Service sector, which includes the numerous IoT based products and services, in particular system integrator companies looking to provide alternatives for technology.
These businesses have tremendous potential applications in mining, agriculture and even e-hailing, as the business demands are not yet fully developed within this region.
I hope the long Raya break has given us the needed rest and served as a refresher to return to work more determined and productive. It is now time to face new challenges, and take these new opportunities and start planning for bigger things for the remainder of the year.
I'd also like to wish my readers Selamat Hari Raya, Maaf Zahir Batin.
"The secret to success is to be ready when your opportunity comes"
The writer is the chief executive officer of Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii)