Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) is not altering its export growth target for 2011 despite slower growths in the US and the European Union, two of its important trading partners.
Its newly-appointed chief executive officer Dr Wong Lai Sum said the 10.6 per cent target as specified under the 10th Malaysia Plan stays, although the actual number may be lower due to the turmoil in these two markets.
"We are maintaining our target but we are looking at the other markets where we are seeing some good numbers such as in green exports.
"Over the past six months, we were surprised to see a significant jump of 17.5 per cent (year-on-year) in green exports to Japan," she said at a media briefing here yesterday.
Wong, who was previously one of Matrade deputy CEOs, succeeded Datuk Noharuddin Nordin, who was appointed director general of the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida).
"Strong linkages with Japanese companies which have been growing their investments, have given a boost to the export numbers, more so in the current environment when the cost element is in play and the surge in demand for green products globally," she said.
Exports of light-emitting diodes (LED) from Malaysia have also risen and are expected to rise by another 20 per cent this year due to the demand by Japan, the US, Singapore, Germany and Taiwan.
Wong said with the consumption pattern and demand in the US and euro land having changed considerably during recent months, having a diversified market helps a small trading nation like Malaysia.
China, India as well as other East Asian economies like South Korea and Taiwan and also West Asia mitigate some of the slack from the advanced markets during the fragile recovery of the global economy.
"Despite fears, our export numbers with the US and the European Union are not all that bad."
For instance, exports of electrical and electronic products (E&E) to the US grew by 28 per cent in June when compared with May.
Palm oil exports also enjoyed a 52.6 per cent surge together with vegetables, roots and tubers (1,628.5 per cent) to the US during the period.
Likewise, within the European Union, exports to core economies like Germany have shown a 17.8 per cent growth.
Matrade is encouraging Malaysian businesses to use its Miami office to penetrate the Caribbean and Latin American markets.
According to the US Customs, imports from Malaysia via Miami showed a 59.1 per cent jump during the first six months of the year.
The African continent is also considered a market largely untapped by Malaysians, Wong said.
"With increased trade linkages, we are glad to see that many companies are more amenable to looking further than the advanced economies to countries in the African continent where trade barriers are not too high."
So far, most of the interest is seen in South Africa, Ghana, Algeria and Uganda.
With recent finds in oil, domestic consumption has increased in these countries and Malaysian companies should seize the opportunities.
Matrade has stepped up trade promotions to Africa. This year, it has marked 10 trade promotion events, from three previously.
On the expansion of its offices, Wong said Turkey is the latest addition.