KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 (Bernama) — Malaysia looks forward to serving as the bridge to stronger economic relations between the Commonwealth and Asia, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak Monday.
He said Malaysia has the advantage of multi-cultural linkages with Asia and strong ties with Commonwealth member countries.
“We should deepen our engagement with organisations in Asia. Let’s start by engaging Asean. Let us build on these relationships to explore possibilities for economic collaborations between these two organisation,” he said in his keynote address at the Global Business Leaders Forum 2010.
Najib said Asean, with its significant trade and investment links with the rest of Asia and its own efforts at regional economic integration, brings with it a significant value proposition that Commonwealth members can benefit from.
As a group, the Commonwealth needs to accept that the balance of the world’s economy has shifted to promoting emerging markets, he said.
“My hope is that this forum will provide the seeds for businesses within the group to take their relationship to a level that fosters collaborations between the private sectors of the Commonwealth and Asia,” said Najib, who is also Finance Minister.
He said Commonwealth member countries could contribute more significantly to trade and investment and called upon the Commonwealth Business Council to undertake necessary follow-ups on the ideas generated during the forum for the member countries.
The Commonwealth, a 54-member partnership of former British colonies around the world, has a population of two billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of US$7.5 trillion or 13 per cent of the global GDP.
Najib said over the last 10 years intra-Commonwealth trade increased from US$2 trillion to US$3 trillion, accounting for 22 per cent of global trade, while investment flow expanded from US$80 billion to US$180 billion.
He said there was potential for intra-Commonwealth trade to grow to US$5 trillion and investment to clinch US$250 billion in the next decade.
“As the group enters its 80th anniversary, there is a need to capitalise on strengths within this dynamic community to enrich each other and to take measures to expand their collective economies.
“We need to do exactly what our name suggests, namely create and spread wealth and create a common platform to enhance trade and investment in the “prosper-thy-neighbour” spirit,” he said.
Among contributions the Commonwealth member states could do towards SMEs’ development and to the growing intra-regional trade are capitalising on individual assets of these countries, said Najib.
“They can also share the best practices in governance and provide favourable environment for businesses to prosper,” said the prime minister.
Najib said while 25 per cent of Malaysia’s trade was with Asean, its trade with the Commonwealth accounted for 22 per cent of their total global trade.
Last year, Malaysia’s trade with Commonwealth countries amounted to US$63.4 billion and in terms of investments as of July this year, a total of 1,901 projects involving Commonwealth countries participation were approved in the manufacturing sector in Malaysia with US$15.2 billion in total investments.
Source : Bernama