MALAYSIA and Qatar will set up a US$2 billion (RM6.2 billion) joint fund to invest in both countries and in Asia.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his visiting Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Hamad Jassim Jaber Al Thani, announced the fund and several other potential collaborations after their meeting here yesterday.
Both countries will each put US$1 billion into the fund, although Najib said details, including where it would invest, would be decided later.
Sheikh Hamad is on a three-day official visit, his first as prime minister of the Gulf state. He was here in 2006 as first deputy prime minister.
Najib said Sheikh Hamad had also responded positively to a request by Malaysia’s Petronas to buy natural gas from Qatar. He said the request was being evaluated.
He also said as Malaysia was scheduled to finish building an offshore gas terminal in July next year, the requirement for more imports of natural gas would increase.
Sheikh Hamad also suggested Malaysia open up a national showroom in Qatar’s capital, Doha, as an impetus to attract investment.
“I have agreed to this as a showroom there would allow people from both the state and region to see for themselves and be acquainted with the range of products and services we can offer,” said Najib.
Both leaders also discussed the role Qatar Investment could play in the redevelopment of the Sungai Besi land once a master plan by the 1Malaysia Development Berhad was worked out.
Najib also pointed out the possibilities for closer cooperation elsewhere, including in the Iskandar region in Johor, which he said
provided vast investment opportunities, as well as possibilities of participating in the development of Langkawi.
“Commitment to implement the Economic Transformation Programme means there are greater investment opportunities for Qatar.”
Trade between both countries has been expanding and the first nine months have seen total trade increase by almost 200 per cent, to almost RM3.3 billion, with both countries confident of the volume and range of products traded to increase even further.
Sheikh Hamad said the increase in trade was proof that there was a strong relationship between both countries.
“The momentum must be kept.” Both leaders also agreed to work towards ensuring not only greater transparency but also good governance, respect for the law and human rights in the region.
“That is why through leadership of his excellency, we have supported Qatar’s initiative and leadership role in the region,” Najib said.
Economic cooperation between the two states has grown rapidly, especially within the past five years.
The Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), for example, is part-owner of the Pavillion Real Estate Investment Trust that recently raised RM710 million in an initial public offer on Bursa Malaysia.
Last year, QIA entered into a memorandum of understanding with 1Malaysia Development Bhd to participate in a US$5 billion investment plan in the energy and real estate sectors.
Sheikh Hamad will be attending the opening ceremony of the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace exhibition in Langkawi today.
Najib said the Qatari leader would also look at possibilities of participating in development projects on the island.
Earlier, Najib and Sheikh Hamad witnessed the exchange of letters between the two countries on bilateral cooperation in higher education and tourism. The Qatari leader also met with Bank Negara Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.
Source : New Straits Times