1. MATRADE targets RM450 million sales at China ASEAN Expo 2018
  2. MATRADE mission to explore India market to boost exports
  3. Bakery China 2018 invites over 140,000 visitors for exhibition in May
  4. Hong Kong and Singapore set to be major players on the Blockchain
  5. Hainan restricts property ownership options for non-locals after granting visa-free entry
  6. Japan sets new rules in home-sharing industry
  7. Malaysia Retains Pole Positions in the US$220 Billion Muslim Travel Market

MATRADE targets RM450 million sales at China ASEAN Expo 2018
The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) aims to achieve sales of RM450 million at the China ASEAN Expo (Caexpo) 2018 in Nanning in September. Senior Director of Strategic Planning Division, Datuk Aureen Jean Nonis said MATRADE would conduct a stricter selection process of companies for participation at the expo due to limited space at the Malaysian pavilion. “We need to select companies which can offer high-quality products, services and brands with greater capabilities to leverage on China’s huge market. There are 179 booths being offered at the Malaysian pavilion,” she told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur. A roadshow planned for Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Sarawak, will provide a more detailed information of the event. Datuk Aureen also said the event had never failed to deliver its objective of increasing market access into China through a smart partnership with the country, and Malaysia’s exhibitors and government agencies last year raked in total sales of RM405.50 million.

In another development, MATRADE will organise a trade mission to India to explore new areas for boosting exports. Malaysian exports to India grew 4.1 per cent to US$ 8.04 billion last year. This made India, the country’s eight largest export destination. The Malaysian Export Acceleration Mission (EAM) to New Delhi in November will focus on sectors such as building materials, food and beverages, furniture, housewares, green technology products and franchising opportunities. “The objective of this EAM is to promote products and services to India by providing a platform for Malaysian companies to explore and identify new business opportunities through business meetings and market visits,” Mazlan Harun, Malaysia’s Trade Commissioner in Mumbai, told Bernama. “These sectors were selected not only based on Malaysia’s strengths, but also because of demand and trends in India. Due to an expanding middle class and purchasing power coupled with a preference for quality imported products, demand is rising for products such as food and beverages and housewares,” he added.

Bakery China 2018 invites over 140,000 visitors for exhibition in May
The China Association of Bakery and Confectionery Industry (CABCI) and Bakery China Exhibitions Co Ltd will organise Bakery China 2018 on May 9 to 12 at the Shanghai New International Expo Center. The exhibition brings more than 140,000 professional visitors from over 110 countries and regions who will experience the innovation of China’s bakery industry, a statement said. With an exhibition area of over 200,000 square meters this year, Bakery China 2018 hopes to attract more than 2,100 exhibitors worldwide. China’s bakery industry has boasted a 20 per cent average growth rate between 2003 and 2016 and in the forthcoming months, the country is expected to become the largest producer and consumer of bakery products. Fast urbanisation and diversification of people’s diets will be the key drivers for the growth of the bakery industry in China, the statement added.

Hong Kong and Singapore set to be major players on the Blockchain
Beijing’s recent crackdown on digital currencies have resulted in investors turning to Singapore and Hong Kong as the up-and-coming destination to raise funds using blockchain technology. The number of companies launching initial coin offerings (ICO) in Singapore and Hong Kong has rocketed in recent months, according to fintech businesses, lawyers and industry groups. “We cannot say Singapore has become an ICO hub yet, as more work needs to be done, but yes, there has been a lot of activity since September last year,” said Anson Zeall, chairman of the Association of Cryptocurrency Enterprises and Startups Singapore. Zeall and others have linked the increase with China’s retreat in ICOs. In September, Beijing defined an ICO as an illegal fundraising tool after concerns over financial scams and money laundering. Dozens of ICO platforms in the country have since shut down. An ICO is a digital token-based fundraising mechanism through which companies create and sell their own virtual currency in exchange for cash or widely accepted cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin. The buyer of the token can use it to pay for goods or services the company offers, or stash it away as an investment. Last year, Singapore became the world’s third-largest ICO launch pad in terms of money raised, after the United States and Switzerland, according to a report from information portal Funderbeam. The only other Asian markets that saw significant ICO activity were Russia and Hong Kong, the report said.

Hainan restricts property ownership options for non-locals after granting visa-free entry
Beijing has imposed restrictions on the purchase of property in Hainan about a week after it announced an ambitious free-trade zone plan for the island, which is also known as “China’s Hawaii”. In a move that suggests zero tolerance for speculation, the provincial government has stipulated that non-locals cannot buy homes in Hainan unless they can provide official proof that they have paid the local social security fund for 24 months. In the hotspot cities of Haikou, Sanya and Qionghai, buyers must prove they have paid social security for 60 months. In the central mountainous region, non-local buyers are banned altogether. The restrictions update a March 31 rule that allowed non-locals to buy one apartment. The new rules also stipulate that non-locals cannot borrow more than 30 per cent of the value of a property from banks, and after purchase the homes cannot be sold within five years. Malaysia was among 59 countries granted visa-free access to Hainan.

Japan sets new rules in home-sharing industry
Japan has introduced a new home-sharing law to ease a shortage of hotel rooms, bring order to an unregulated market and offer more lodging options for foreign visitors ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. However, renters and experts opined that the move is likely to stifle Airbnb and other home-sharing businesses when it is enacted in June and force many homeowners to stop offering their services. The “minpaku,” or private temporary lodging law, the first national legal framework for short-term home rental in Asia, limits home-sharing to 180 days a year, a cap some hosts say makes it difficult to turn a profit. More important, local governments, which have final authority to regulate services in their areas, are imposing even more severe restrictions, citing security or noise concerns. The ancient capital of Kyoto, which draws more than 50 million tourists a year, will allow private lodging in residential areas only between 15 January and 16 March avoiding the popular spring and fall tourist seasons. Similarly, Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya ward will permit home-sharing services in residential areas only during school holidays, with certain exceptions, so children won’t meet strangers on their way to class. In short, renters and experts say, the new law is doing more to hurt than help, even as a record 28.7 million tourists flocked to Japan last year, up 19 per cent from the year before. Japan aims to host 40 million foreign tourists a year by 2020.

Malaysia Retains Pole Positions in the US$220 Billion Muslim Travel Market
Malaysia and Singapore have kept their position as the number one destination in the global Muslim travel market as rivals are looking to close the gap fast. The Mastercard-Crescent Rating Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2018, which covers 130 destinations, saw Malaysia retain the premier spot while Indonesia built on its year-on-year growth by moving up to joint second with the United Arab Emirates in the overall rankings. The Index also reveals that a number of non-Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) destinations in Asia moved up the rankings – a result of their concerted effort to adapt their services to cater to and attract the Muslim travel market. Singapore retained its pole position for the non-OIC destination markets, ahead of Thailand and the United Kingdom while Japan and Taiwan surged into the top five for the first time since the GMTI was released. The GMTI 2018 confirmed the Muslim travel market is on course to continue its fast-paced growth to reach US$220 billion in 2020. It is expected to grow a further US$80 billion to hit US$300 billion by 2026. In 2017, there were an estimated 131 million Muslim visitor arrivals globally – up from 121 million in 2016 – and this is forecasted to grow to 156 million visitors by 2020 representing 10 percent of the travel segment.