Our day started off bright and early with a trip to the wet market at 6:30 a.m. We found a much different setting at the wet market in Malaysia than what we found in Vietnam. It was very similar to an American farmer’s market, but the major difference was the option of purchasing fresh meat. There were fish that were actually still alive at the market, just waiting for someone to buy them before they were “prepared for purchase.” We saw of a wide variety of meats for sale including frog, shark, sting ray, and squid. Other interesting produce items included a variety of exotic fruits and vegetables.
We returned to our hotel to prepare for our meeting at Westport export and import container facility. We were given a brief overview of Westport’s business model by Mr. Sohan Singh, the director of conventional shipping at Westport. Westport is one of three ports in Pork Klang (which is the oldest and largest port in Malaysia). The port has $1 billion in annual revenue and moves approximately 1,000 vessels in and out per month. They have 67% of the market share within Port Klang and are currently expanding their operation.
Their expansions are expected to be completed in 2013. In terms of connectivity, Westport has eight countries with mainlines, with China being their largest. They rank 13th out of all the ports in the world and have a goal of being in the top ten. Types of bulk transported out of the port include dry, vehicle, break, and liquid bulk. They also have a value-adding facility on site which allows private companies to import raw materials and manufacture on site before turning right back around to export the finished good. Westport was an impressive operation and we all enjoyed the opportunity to tour the facilities and the delicious cultural meal they provided us at noon.
Our next stop was the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, which are the tallest twin towers in the world. We had a great view of the Towers from inside our rooms at Traders Hotel, but the sights from inside the Petronas Towers were even more magnificent. Following our tour of the Petronas Towers, we went to the 20th Anniversary celebration of the U.S. Grains Council in Malaysia at Le Meridian hotel. We had the opportunity to network with Malaysian government officials, grain traders, employees of the Grains Council, and U.S. FAS agents. The evening was full of great food and conversation, and we all felt honored to have gotten the opportunity to attend such an event.
Our last day in Malaysia was filled with more learning about the agriculture industry of Southeast Asia, import and export transportation at Westport, and networking with industry professionals at the Grains Council reception. Our stop at Westport especially connected the puzzle pieces for us for grain trade when we saw where grain that is taken to an elevator may ultimately end up. Early tomorrow morning, we will fly to Singapore where we will meet with the CME/CBOT Group and Bloomberg ag news department. We’re looking forward to one last day of fun and learning!
Mathias Peterson, University of Minnesota
Bethany Olson, Iowa State University