Malaysia is looking at having its automotive vendors collaborating with their Japanese counterparts in a bid to tap into the growing ASEAN economic community market. The move aims to forge strategic partnerships or technical assistance in the areas of plastic parts, metal parts, tools, electrical parts and after-market parts.

The first overtures have already begun. At an event held in Tsu City, Mei Prefecture yesterday, 44 Japanese automotive vendors and trading companies met with 25 Malaysian vendors in a business matchmaking session to see how alliances could be formed.

The event was organised by the Malaysian Automotive Institute (MAI), assisted by the Malaysia Investment Development Authority (MIDA), the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), Japan Trade Organisation (JETRO) and supported by Perodua.

According to MAI COO Nizma Mohd Nazar, the event was intended as a platform for Malaysian vendors to identify suitable and potential joint ventures with Japanese automotive companies, as well as help to promote strategic alliances in various business areas, including technology collaboration, business expansion opportunity, export market penetration and knowledge sharing.

He said that Japan has long been a close trading partner to Malaysia, and in terms of trade of automotive products, Japan was Malaysia’s second largest trading partner, with two-way trade amounting to RM6.8 billion in 2015.

“Malaysia’s exports of automotive parts and components to Japan last year recorded an increase of 27% to RM301.5 million from RM237.5 million in 2014. Look at Perodua, and that is a testament to what a Japan-Malaysia partnership can do,” Nizma said.

Perodua president and CEO Datuk Aminar Rashid Salleh said that the business matching session was an opportunity to explore further facets of the free trade agreement between Malaysia and Japan. “I believe that there are a lot of areas where collaborations are possible, whereby both parties can complement each other to take advantage of the potential growth in ASEAN and beyond,” he said.

He added that the event was a historic moment for the Malaysian automotive industry, particularly for Perodua, as all 25 Malaysian vendors present at the event are the best in their respective fields and were on the verge of going regional, if not global, with their business.