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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 Govt to set up more e-commerce infrastructure for

26 September 2001 (Business Times) - RECOGNISING the potential of anelectronic-commerce (e-commerce) in boosting sales of commodities, theGovernment has established three Internet portals for natural rubber, palmoil and timber and will continue to set up more for other crops.Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yeik said the portalshave enabled commodity-related companies to have a wider business reach.“By having an infrastructure such as the Internet portal, Malaysia’scommodities can have a wider market and can achieve higher sales.“E-commerce will help Malaysia’s palm oil, rubber, timber, furniture andother raw materials have a wider market and wider sales revenues,” he toldreporters after opening a conference on e-commerce — Strategies forpenetrating markets in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.As an example, he cited Goldman Sachs as saying that by 2004, 12 per centof all agricultural sales in the US will be conducted over the Internetcompared to only 4 per cent in 1999.E-commerce simply means business transactions conducted over the Internet.Dr Lim said the three main portals, for natural rubber, palm oil andtimber, were established to achieve that goal.For the rubber industry, a memorandum of understanding has been signedbetween the Multimedia Development Corp (MDC) and the Malaysian RubberBoard to establish a rubber portal.“The model proposed will provide the e-business component, carry out thehosting and search for processors, manufacturers and consumers, as well asprovide the facilities for rubber communities to interact with oneanother,” Dr Lim said.He said the portal would allow small players to directly participate inthe rubber trade and slowly phase out the current trading system.“The Government is trying to change the conventional whispering type oftrading of natural rubber which has been in existence since 15 years ago,”he said.In the timber industry, the Malaysian Timber Council is jointly developinga portal with Virtual One Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of MDC to promote andexport Malaysia’s timber products through Malaysian Trade ElectronicExchange (MTeX).Dr Lim said as global competition increases, Malaysian timber companiesshould involve themselves in e-commerce as it will be the marketing mediumof the future.In the palm oil business, he said ePOMEX, the world’s first electronicpalm oil exchange for trading and physical delivery of palm oil products,has already been put in place.He said ePOMEX will go on “live” on October 1 for domestic transactionsand would be available to international players from the first quarter ofnext year.“The 24-hour seven days a week ePOMEX is essentially an electronicmarketplace or trading floor bringing together growers, millers, refiners,manufacturers and traders to provide online transactions for buyers andsellers of palm oil products,” he said.With the establishment of ePOMEX, Dr Lim said different time zones aroundthe world is not a barrier to conduct palm oil business anymore.“This improves market coverage for sellers and becomes sources of supplyfor buyers and also enhances price transparency in the market place,” hesaid.Dr Lim said Malaysian companies must speed up the process becausedeveloped countries such as the US, Japan, Canada and Australia are farahead in utilising e-commerce for trading.Malaysia achieved a trade expansion of 20.3 per cent with a total tradevalue of RM685.7 billion which was three times its gross domestic productand was ranked the world’s 17th largest trading nation last year.However, only a fraction or around 4 per cent of this trade was conductedvia e-commerce.The business-to-business, one of the various facets of e-commerce in Asiaalone, was worth around US$40 billion (US$1 = RM3.80) last year and isexpected to reach a value of US$900 billion by 2005. Malaysia’s e-commerceis expected to reach US$1 billion by 2003.

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