Speechs in the year
Tarikh/Date 	: 	15/11/83 

Distinguished guests; Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to thank the
Board of Malaysian Transnational Trading Corporation Berhad (MATTRA) for
inviting me to officiate its launching ceremony.

2. I would also like to congratulate Kumpulan Fima Berhad, United Motor
Works (Malaysia) Holdings Berhad and Palmco Holdings Berhad for their
initiative and boldness in coming together to incorporate a general
trading company under the sogoshosha concept to foster and upgrade their
trading activities in particular and Malaysian international trade in
general. Kumpulan Fima Berhad, is a government owned investment holding
company with diversified interests in the food and food-related
industries, and its involvement today with two well established local
public listed companies bears testimony that the newly evolved government
policy of 'Malaysia Incorporated', 'Privatisation' of the economy and to
establish a fresh outlook in the export trade is gaining material support
from the private sector. The wide diversity of activities of the
shareholders of MATTRA is a meaningful base for the newly incorporated
trading company to enter into the international trade aggressively. On my
recent trip to Japan, I had the honour of opening its first overseas
office in Tokyo.

3. I have first suggested to the private sector in mid 1980 that Malaysian
trading houses, similar to the Japanese sogoshosha, be set up to serve
small and big commodity producers and manufacturers in the
country. Various corporate entities have responded to this challenge. It
is admitted that the present sogoshosha of the Japanese have evolved over
a long period before their impact on world trade was felt. Malaysians must
therefore be patient in their expectations on the role and performance of
the local trading companies. Though I have suggested the incorporation of
Japanese type trading houses, the final shape and form of the Malaysian
trading houses would, I am sure, not be a total adoption of the Japanese
type but will have their own identities to reflect Malaysian needs and

Ladies and gentlemen, 

4. The lead time from mid 1980 to today to see the private sector's
material response to the concept of general trading companies shows that
change is something not readily accepted, and more so in an environment
where political and economic stability prevails, and their continuance is
taken for granted. Fortunately or unfortunately, Malaysia falls in this

5. The government is responsible for the well-being of the country, not
only for the present but also more importantly for the future. Apart from
the provision of the traditional role of law and order, it has also to
ensure that the economy, no matter how successful we are today, does not
lapse into a state of complacency. The world at large is constantly
undergoing changes and to maintain progress and growth we must constantly
be aware of the changes taking place and to come to terms with them, lest
we would be out of the mainstream of development.

6. In Malaysia, the private sector has been given an increasing role in
contributing to the well being of the nation's economy under the concepts
of 'Malaysia Incorporated' and 'Privatisation' of the economy. The private
sector has to concern itself not only on the financial performance of its
commercial undertakings, but more as a good corporate citizen to adopt a
more forward and positive position in restructuring its corporate role and
activities to meet the changing times in nation building.

The sacrifices made by companies to submerge individual benefits for the
mutual benefits of the trading companies they have established to upgrade
Malaysian international trading is a move in that direction. I hope more
Malaysian companies would undertake similar approach in their business
endeavours. The development of a large segment of good corporate citizens
within the Malaysian corporate sectors augurs well for the economy. The
private sector, I am sure, would be able to shoulder the added
responsibilities successfully, as it has done in the past in fulfilling
the various roles which it has been called upon to play.

7. The resilience of the Malaysian economy is best demonstrated by the
modest growth achieved this year despite the world recession. A brighter
outlook has been forecast for 1984 and 1985. The country's total trade
with the world this year stands at $62.9 billion and is expected to
register an increase of 10.2% over last year. Increasing volume and value
of trade per se does not mean we have no economic problem to address
to. The weakness of the Malaysian 'service industry' in world trade has
resulted in an adverse balance of payment. The deficit in the 'service
account' is expected to top $7.2 billion as a result of increased freight
and insurance charges and stronger outflow of investment income in
1984. This shows that unless we upgrade and expand our involvement in the
servicing of our world trade, we would not be able to absorb the greater
part of the marketing income which are ours for the taking, if we are
willing to take the risks and make the capital investment to provide the
services required.

8. International trade has become more competitive. In addition
protectionist sentiments have tended to reduce trade, particularly of the
newly industrializing developing countries. Unless the private sector
surges into this economic activity with a new dimension and perspective
and added fervour, our desire to contain the negative invisible trade,
while at the same time expanding trade, would be difficult to achieve. It
has often been expressed that Malaysian inroad into direct international
trade has been constrained by limited local infrastructure services and
government support. Getting on with the task despite whatever constraint,
which may be true or imaginary, is more important as it reflects the
determination and perseverance of the investors and our ability to thrive
in a free and open economy.

9. The government will accord meaningful support and assistance as the
exercise is in line with national aspiration. What is more important to
the success of our move to gain a greater share of the opportunities
existing in world trade lies on the approach adopted by the Malaysian
companies venturing into this field and the commercial support it obtains
from the local and foreign business community.

10. In the case of the establishment of local general trading companies,
Malaysian companies should realise that to be competitive in direct
international trade, one not only has to be efficient in terms of cost and
service, but also be large enough to trade effectively. Direct
international trading is not something new in the Malaysian scene, but a
genuine desire to set up an operation similar to the Japanese sogoshosha
would create a new feature. A meaningful approach would be one adopted by
the shareholders of MATTRA where eventually all the trading activities of
the Group would be serviced by a singular entity. Undoubtedly a lot of
adjustments has to be made by the shareholders of MATTRA in their trading
operations and I am confident they are able to achieve this objective
given the magnanimity and genuineness of those involved.

11. As the opportunities for a greater stake in the Malaysian world trade
are significant and attractive, I would like to see more Malaysian
companies coming together to ensure the effectiveness and success of
Malaysian trading houses in the international scene. Cosmetic work adopted
to change one's trading activities to reflect the sogoshosha concept
merely enables the parties involved to join the 'fad' of the day and its
absence of substance and commitment would take its toll over time.

12. The entry of MATTRA and other local general trading companies should
be viewed positively and Malaysian companies should give their full
support. National interest and aspiration should take precedence over the
relative benefits one enjoys and get used to as accorded by the
traditional foreign companies operating inshore and offshore. The
development of the local general trading houses takes time to reach
maturity. Any fear that their establishment would cause immediate
structural changes in our pattern of trade should not have arisen. Let us
not confine ourselves to merely being an efficient supplier of natural
resources but also take a more meaningful stake in world trade as
'marketeers'. Skill is not a prerogative of any nation. We have made a
name for ourselves in rubber, palm oil, tin and cocoa production. Given
the same effort and determination, I am sure we can succeed in general
trading as we have in the production of commodities. At the moment, we
have the goods to be marketed, but we lack the 'marketeers' to provide the
bulk of marketing services which are presently undertaken successfully by
our foreign trading partners. Let us take stock of our limited role in
direct international trade and be more dynamic and aggresive in our new
approach in the marketing scene. On this I congratulate the shareholders
of MATTRA and I look forward to the time when their enthusiasm and effort
will place them among the household names with which we are familiar.

Ladies and gentlemen, 

13. I wish MATTRA every success in its endeavours, and I now have much
pleasure to officially launch the company.