Malaysia have decided to take a series of initiatives aimed at
promoting economic cooperation between the two countries. These
initiatives were actually the outcome of the recent visit of Malaysian
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Pakistan, which will go a long
way to strengthen the existing friendly relations between the two
Shaukat Aziz and his Malaysian counterpart declared at the
Pak-Malaysia Forum in Islamabad that the two sides have signed joint
ventures and memorandums of understanding to move towards that goal.
Both also agreed to start talks on a preferential trade agreement to
pave the way for a free trade agreement.
On the occasion,
Badawi said that at the end of quota regime, the two countries should
take full benefit of trade liberalization. The full potential of
economic cooperation between the two countries was yet to be fully
exploited, he added.
Shaukat Aziz said Pakistan offered immense investment opportunities,
and encouraged Malaysian businessmen to take full benefit of the
country's growing economy, liberal economic policies and what he
described as its investment-friendly environment.
The two countries
already shared a cordial trade relationship in the past as Pakistan
imports palm oil from Malaysia. and in future Malaysia could increase
the import of items like textiles, seafood, sports and surgical goods,
rice and manpower from Pakistan.
Prime Minister also listed some key areas where the Malaysian
corporate sector could make investments in Pakistan with good
prospects of expansion and growth.
Badawi also urged
Pakistan to join hands for the promotion of trade and economic
relations within the 57 member of Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC),
which represents almost 1.8 billion people. Although OIC countries
meet almost 75 percent of global energy needs and supply, the world
with 40 percent of its raw material, trade among them is not
substantial. Badawi's suggestion of a free trade agreement among the
OIC member countries deserves close attention. In the emerging global
atmosphere of free trade, such an agreement can help promote greater
economic cooperation among the member countries. He also declared that
Pakistan could consider Malaysia as a gateway to the Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). This could help the country to boost
its exports to that region.
The interest shown
by the Malaysian Prime Minister and the leaders of the business
community accompanying him in the increase of economic and trade
relations with Pakistan is encouraging. The two sides are not only
keen to foster closer relations at the official but also through the
business communities in their respective countries. This creates hope
and confidence that trade and investment relations between the two
countries will grow stronger. They could even set the pace for other
OIC member countries to follow the example of this kind of
During his meeting
with President Pervez Musharraf, the two leaders discussed ways to
strengthen bilateral relations. They reviewed regional and
international issues of mutual interest and exchanged views on the
challenges being faced by the Muslim Ummah.
that immense potential existed for economic and trade partnerships,
which should be fully tapped to redress trade imbalance and to enhance
Malaysian investment in Pakistan. They said that consultations on
Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) should lead to Free Trade Agreement
(FTA) between both the countries. Both Musharraf and Badawi emphasized
upon the need to establish joint investment ventures and to explore
new areas for collaboration in industry, electronics, IT,
telecommunications and agriculture sectors.
Badawi, who is
currently Chairman of the OIC, has echoed feelings of the Ummah on the
issue. Though OIC, as a representative body of the Muslim world, is
not that effective and has so far not been able to play any meaningful
role on any crisis be it Afghanistan or Iraq, what the Malaysian Prime
Minister has said is the voice of each and every Muslim.
widespread resentment and concern in the length and breadth of the
Muslim world over unabated arms twisting in Iran and Syria by the only
superpower of the world. After trampling sovereignty of two
independent Muslim states, Washington is now eyeing on Iran and Syria
as the next target of its aggression. Iran has shown a lot of
flexibility in its attitude and is engaged with constructive dialogue
with the European Union. However, there are all indications that
Americans are not interested in peaceful resolution of the problem and
are bent upon imposing their will on Tehran by use of force. Pressure
is also mounting on Syria and it is widely believed that the
assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri is being
used as a pretext by the United States to make things difficult for
Damascus. It is in this background that Iran and Syria have arrived at
an understanding to face the threats jointly. As the situation is
becoming serious, it is time that the OIC should come out of the
slumber and play an active role in averting any showdown."
Visit of the
Malaysian Prime Minister to Pakistan would surely open new vistas of
bilateral cooperation in different spheres of life. Fortunately, Prime
Minister of both Pakistan and Malaysia are matter of fact
personalities and, therefore, it was a foregone conclusion that the
two sides would hold meaningful discussions to take their mutual
collaboration to new heights. Badawi conveyed same impression during
his address to business forum.
Foreign Minister said the meeting between the two Prime Ministers was
the most substantive he ever attended. The Malaysian premier came with
a large delegation of businessmen while the level of enthusiasm of the
local business community can be judged by the fact that the spacious
venue of the forum was unable to accommodate the surging number of
In the backdrop of
Pakistan's concern over huge trade deficit with Malaysia, it is also
encouraging that Prime Minister Badawi has all praise for Pakistan's
achievements in cotton and textile and advised his businessmen to take
advantage of Pakistan's edge in the sector. Hopefully, Malaysian
entrepreneurs would listen to his advice to make Pakistan a
manufacturing base for marketing of products both in the local and
Shaukat Aziz told prospective investors, their ventures would be quite
profitable as labor cost in Pakistan is five times lower than
Malaysia, cheaper raw material is available in abundance and there are
emerging markets in the neighboring regions.
It is satisfying
that the two sides are also mindful of the fact to overcome delay in
implementation of various proposals and have firmed up necessary
mechanism to expedite the process.
Shaukat Aziz has already been extended an invitation to lead a
business team to Malaysia. All channels should be activated during the
intervening period to prepare grounds for realization of the targets
focusing on increased interaction in trade and commerce.