BEIJING, June 4 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak says the current narrow base of the current Malaysia-China trade should be broadened.
This is because close to 67 percent of Malaysian exports to China consisted of eletrical and electronic products, and commodities, primarily palm oil.
And similarly, 65 percent of Malaysian imports from China comprised electrical and electronic products, and machinery, appliances and parts, he told the one-day Malaysia-China Business Forum here Thursday.
About 900 participants attended the forum and the Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Mustapa Mohamed described the response as overwhelming.
Mustapa said it was the biggest business forum organised by Malaysia in Beijing since 2004.
In a speech where Najib provided an overview of trade and investment opportunities, he began by saying that he did not intend to walk at the same pace as his late father Tun Abdul Razak in terms of managing bilateral relations with China but would walk even faster as China had advanced so much in its development over the last three decades.
He said that Malaysia viewed China as a strategic partner not only in trade but also in investment.
Chinese investment in Malaysia totalled US$134 million from 2000 to 2008 while Malaysian investment in China was 10 times more at US$1.36 billion. Malaysia was also the 19th largest investor in China and the second largest foreign investor from Asean.
But Najib said the main concern today was how to promote more cross-border trade and investment between the two countries.
He said there was obviouly scope to expand beyond this relatively narrow range of goods, and to include higher value and high tech products.
Besides manufacturing, the prime minister said both countries should capitalise on each other’s strengths in construction, engineering and other services sectors.
Najib also encouraged Chinese investors to take advantage of the full liberalisation of 27 services sub sectors like tourism and construction which he had announced recently.
He also urged the business communities of both countries to collaborate and take advantage of the Asean Free Trade mechanism as the Asean Free Trade Area has a market of 570 million people and a Gross Domestic Product exceeding US$1 billion. Â
Given that scenario, he said it made business sense for Chinese companies seeking to expand in Asean toÂ consider using Malaysia as their base.
He reminded the participants of the forum that with the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement in progress, import tariffs would be reduced.
For instance, China will reduce import tariffs on more than 7,000 products from Asean, of which the tariffs on more than 60 per cent of all the products had been eliminated.
By the end of 2010, the bulk of duties on goods entering China from Asean countries will be reduced to zero.
Najib said in the Malaysian context, theÂ tariff reduction also meant that more than 9,000 products imported from ChinaÂ to Malaysia would also be duty free.
Najib said while the global economic crisis is giving cause for uncertainties, Asia will not only survive this crisis beter than Europe or the Americas, it will also take the lead to pull the world out of this downturn.
“I myself have no doubt that China will be at the forefront of this revival,” he said.
Source : Bernama