Malaysian exports to North America received a boost today with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between San Francisco-based vLinx and Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM).

The FMM is the largest trade association in Malaysia, representing over 2,000 manufacturing and industrial service companies.

The MOU will enable Malaysian manufacturers to have immediate access to the vLinx-operated B2B online trading community, which automates the complex processes of international trade to ensure a timely solution for the buying and selling of excess consumer goods.

"Malaysian suppliers, who have idle or excess inventory, now have increased access and exposure to qualified buyers in North America, and have the ability to conduct transactions online using vLinx's trading community," said Kombiz Eghdami, founder, chairman and CEO of vLinx. "vLinx has combined the capabilities of an online trading marketplace with internationally respected program partners who handle payment, appraisal, sampling, insurance, inspection and final delivery, to create the world's first seamless door-to-door system."

Malaysian manufacturers, even if they have not developed or deployed a sophisticated Internet strategy, will be able to virtually display their products to reach a pool of pre-qualified North American buyers.

"In the new economy, we must be innovative in order to attract international buyers for our Malaysian products," said Yee Kar Fong, chief executive of TradeNex. "The arrangement with vLinx enables us to help Malaysian suppliers display and sell their products more effectively."

"The agreement also allows TradeNex, working with FMM, to identify and disseminate trade inquiries from overseas buyers, traders and importers to the manufacturing community," said Kar Fong. "By collaborating with vLinx, we are jump-starting the process of online matching of Malaysian manufacturers with buyers in North America who are specifically seeking consumer goods. More importantly, we are enabling our manufacturers to fast-track into the world of e-commerce through a low-cost entry point that carries few risks."

vLinx, which recently opened its Asian regional office in Kuala Lumpur, has identified 29 categories of excess inventory that have ready buyers in North America. These categories include footwear, sporting goods, baby products, and health and beauty products.

According to 1999 figures from the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE), the US is Malaysia's top trading partner, accounting for 19.9 per cent of Malaysia's international trade or approximately $30bn. Malaysia's top exports include apparel and accessories, electronics goods and components, as well as furniture and plastics.

About vLinx
vLinx is the B2B e-commerce trading community for seamless international trade via the Internet. Through its solution and partnerships with recognised worldwide providers of trading services, vLinx automates all aspects of the international trading process. The privately held company has operational headquarters in San Francisco and Vancouver, British Columbia, and a regional presence in Asia through offices in Kuala Lumpur, Beijing, Bangkok and Tokyo. vLinx blue chip partners include financial giants HSBC Group, Royal Bank of Canada and Wells Fargo Bank. They are joined by escrow account provider TradeSafe Online; auctioneer and appraiser Maynards; world courier FedEx; inspection and certification specialist SGS of Switzerland; insurer Lloyd's of London; and freight companies Nishitetsu-Nippon (NNR) and Overseas Express Consolidators (OEC).

vLinx is funded by Madrona Venture Group, Cheung Kong Holdings Limited and Hutchison Whampoa Limited.

About Sdn Bhd is a subsidiary of the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), Malaysia's premier economic organization. was formed to enable Malaysian manufacturers to move towards an e-manufacturing community and to conduct business effectively through e-commerce.

Since its establishment in 1968, the FMM has consistently led Malaysian manufacturers in spearheading the nation's growth and modernisation. Today, as the largest private sector economic organisation in Malaysia, with membership of over 2,000 manufacturing and industrial service companies of varying sizes, the FMM is the officially recognised and acknowledged voice of the industry.