PUTRAJAYA, April 12 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his British counterpart, David Cameron Thursday agreed that both countries have the potential to double bilateral trade to eight billion pounds (about RM39.16 billion) by 2016.
“(The potential) is simply enormous and both our economic ministers have agreed that we should try to double our bilateral trade by the year 2016.
“Its an ambitious goal but we will try to work towards that,” Najib said at a joint press conference with Cameron after their bilateral meeting at Seri Perdana.
Describing the Kuala Lumpur-London bilateral relationship as very important, Najib said that it needs to be nurtured and resuscitated.
He said their discussions covered five vital areas, namely political and diplomatic relations, trade and investment, education and training, science, technology and environment as well as defence and security.
“Specifically on economic and business ties, we both agree that there is an opportunity for us to enhance and increase our bilateral trade,” he said.
This is the first visit by Cameron to Malaysia since he was elected British Prime Minister in May 2010.
Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said both parties also discussed some of the specific requirements in retail trade.
“Some of their economic and business organisations such as Tesco and Giant are operating here and they are important features of our retail trade.
“They will continue to be given consideration for further expansion,” he said.
On British firm, Balfour Beatty Plc’s interest in the Ampang line My Rapid Transit, Najib said: “The matter is still under consideration but we are looking into the possibility of trying to find creative solutions.”
Meanwhile, Cameron described Malaysia as a real economic heavyweight and influential player in the region, Commonwealth and beyond.
“You are playing a wider role in driving that progress,” he said.
According to Cameron, 150,000 Malaysians work for British companies while Malaysia’s investment projects have created hundreds of new jobs in Britain over the last decade.
“Malaysians today own some major British companies including football clubs like Queens Park Rangers and Cardiff City Football Club.
“And yet, despite this, this is the first time the British Prime Minister has come to Malaysia in almost 20 years.
“My message today is very simple, Britain is back…back to do business with Malaysia, back to build our partnership on vital global issues,” he added.
Touching on trade and investment, Cameron said: “Our ambition is simple, to achieve a steep change in Britain’s trade and investment with Malaysia.
“I have come today with a strong business delegation and I’m delighted we have already seen a number of new deals today,” he added.
Britain is the third largest investor in Malaysia among European countries, after Germany and the Netherlands.
Malaysia is Britain’s 35th largest trading partner for goods and 38th largest for services.
In 2010, total trade between Malaysia and Britain stood at over RM13 billion.
Cameron’s visit will precede that of Britain’s Royal Couple Prince William and Princess Katherine, who will visit Johor in September at part of their tour to several countries in conjunction with Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee celebrations.
Source : Bernama