US trade team coming with three-pronged mission

BY PAUL GABRIEL

THE United States’ largest trade mission here in over a decade is coming with an ambitious three-pronged agenda.  

Tagged Opportunity Malaysia 2005, the 32-member high-profiled mission from Fort Lauderdale in Florida will arrive in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday and also visit Penang and Kedah until March 6.  

The Florida mission has three main aims – to strengthen commercial ties between Malaysia and the US, find new suppliers of Malaysian products and explore partnerships for investments in both countries, and to sell more US goods and services in Malaysia.  

Florida-based Digital Media Network Inc (DMNI), a leading international business consultancy firm that has been assisting Malaysian firms to penetrate the US, Latin American and Caribbean markets, is organising the trip.  

The US Embassy’s commercial counsellor here, William Zarit, said it had taken over a year of planning to put together a group of influential Florida businessmen, adding that the mission was coming only to Malaysia.  

“We worked very closely with the Department of Commerce based in Florida, and this is not a typical trade mission. The people coming on this trip are from a diverse base and from the highest level,” he told StarBiz in an interview. 

The mission will be led by DMNI president Bernhard Schutte, whose company specialises in seeking joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions. 

Schutte, who has been to Malaysia manny times, said members of the mission were eager to set up joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions here.  

“We can also help Malaysian companies penetrate the US market,” he added.  

Zarit said the US businessmen headed here were very committed to “engaging” with Malaysia.  

“Otherwise, it would not be possible to get so many of them to leave their bases in Florida for over a week. It shows just how serious they are in wanting to do business with Malaysia,” he added. 

Members of the mission are scheduled to call on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya on March 1 and also hold discussions with Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain.