MALAYSIA-PAKISTAN : TOGETHER WE MOVE FORWARD
By Mukhtiar Hussain
KARACHI: Malaysia celebrates Malaysia Day on 16 September every year to commemorate the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, While Malaya gained its independence on 31 August 1957, Malaya together with Sabah and Sarawak formed Malaysia on 16 September 1963.
Malaysia and Pakistan enjoy warm and friendly relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1957. Bilateral cooperation between the two countries is not only confined to political and economic spheres but also on other areas such as education, tourism, defense and technical assistance. Both countries share similar, if not identical positions on many regional and international issues through their common membership in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) and G77. In addition, Pakistan is also a Sectoral Dialogue Partner of ASEAN and a member of ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
Khairul Nazran Abd Rahman, Consul-General of Malaysia in Karachi highlighted that Pakistan remains as one of Malaysia’s largest trading partner among South Asian countries. The balance of trade has consistently been in Malaysia’s favor. Both countries need to diversify goods beyond palm oil and cereals in order to increase trade.
Malaysia and Pakistan signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on 8 November 2007 in Kuala Lumpur. The Agreement is Pakistan’s first comprehensive FTA incorporating trade in goods, trade in services investment and economic cooperation, and Malaysia’s first bilateral FTA with any South Asian countries.
In 2017, bilateral trade increased by 3.5% to RM 5.76 billion (USD 1.34 billion) from RM 5.56 billion (USD 1.34 billion) in 2016. Export increased by 3.9% to RM 5.04 billion (USD 1.17 billion) from RM 4.85 billion (USD 1.17 billion) in 2016. Imports slightly increased by 1.1% to RM 711.9 million (USD 172.1 million) in 2016. Malaysia’s major exports to Pakistan include palm, oil chemicals and chemical products, refined petroleum products, machinery appliances and electronic and electrical products. Imports comprise of cereals, textiles and clothing, vegetables, roots, tubers, fresh and chilled or frozen seafood.
Mr Johari Minal, Consul (Malaysian Palm Oil Board) added that Pakistan has been an important market for Malaysian palm oil its products. With an intake of 1.02 million tones of Malaysian palm products in 2017, Pakistan was the fourth largest behind India, EU and China. Pakistan has also emerged as an important market for Palm Kernel Cake, which is used as an ingredient for animal’s feeds. In 2017, Pakistan imported 0.3 million tonnes of Palm Kernel Cake and became the fourth largest Malaysian Palm Kernel Cake behind New Zealand, EU and South Korea.
He added that Malaysia has been able to keep the prices of palm precuts competitive by increasing productivity. With only 5.81 hectares of land or less than 1% of the total agriculture land in the world, Malaysia contributes to about 10% of total production of world’s oils and fats, releasing the world of the burden to provide more lands to produce oils and fats.
As the second largest producer of palm oil, Malaysia has been producing higher quality palm oil products compared to other suppliers and has diversified to produce specialty fats, tailor-made fats, red palm oil, Vitamin E and other downstream products. Pakistani importers are encouraged to source their palm products requirements from Malaysia for better product quality and reliability.
Malaysia believes that there is strong potential for further development and expansion of bilateral economic cooperation and partnership between both countries. More efforts need to be undertaken to increase our product range and exploit our full potential. Malaysia hopes that Pakistan will continue to take advantage of Malaysia’s vibrant economy to invest and promote greater business linkages between our private sectors.
Malaysia had, on 28 May 2007 signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the field of Tourism with Pakistan. In 2017, tourist arrivals from Pakistan stood at 53,453 arrivals, a decrease of 8.5% as compared to 58,388 arrivals in 2016. Malaysia hopes more tourists from Pakistan would choose Malaysia for their holidays. Malaysia offers many excellent yet affordable accommodations and facilities to make the visit both comfortable and enjoyable.
Tourism contributes significantly to the Malaysian GDP in 2017, Malaysia received 25.9 million tourists from countries all over the world contributing to the country’s revenue of RM 82.1 billion (USD 20.5 billion). Out of total, 841,342 tourists were from South Asian countries. Potential is immense within the tourism cooperation between the two countries. This year, Malaysia is hopeful to recive 33.1 million Malaysia Year will be held in 2020 setting a target of 36 million tourist arrivals with a revenue of RM 168 billion (USD 42 billion). Malaysia would like to see more Pakistani tourists to visit Malaysia through further engagements between tour agencies people-to-people contact, promotion etc.
Malaysia and Pakistan had taken steps to encourage and facilitate educational interactions and tracings as well as admissions for students and researchers to the higher education institutions of both countries. Approximately there are 1,579 Pakistani students studying in Malaysia. Malaysia hopes more students and researchers from Pakistan would choose Malaysia for their higher education studies. Malaysia offers many excellent and world class higher education institutions facilities.
Malaysia aspires to shape students who may not just compete globally in areas that require high cognitive skills, but are well-rounded in their reasoning/analyzing skills, leadership skills are as well as possess bilingual/multi-lingual proficiency. Malaysia’s education system also puts a strong emphasis on spirituality, nationalism and ethics.
Mrs Zawiyah Maulud, Immigration Attaché enlightened that Malaysian Government would provide a conducive environment for the Pakistani tourists and students to visit Malaysia. Our visa process is efficient but however, every applicant needs to adhere to the Malaysian law and regulation in practice. The Consulate General had appointed 15 travel agents (dropbox) to supplement the former’s effort in promoting Malaysian tourism and education.
Malaysia and Pakistan have a close cooperation in the field of defense. Both countries have been working together on military cooperation particularly joint courses and training at the Pakistan military institutions such as the National Defence University Islamabad, Air War College Karachi, Combined Staff College Quetta, and Pakistan Air Force Academy Risalpur.
Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme
Malaysia first extended its technical assistance under the Malaysia Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) to Pakistan in 1982. In 2017, a total of 16 participants mainly Pakistani officials, had participated in various short-term courses such as public administration, diplomacy, library management, fisheries and cooperative management.
Malaysia and Pakistan have new Governments. Both are on similar ground and heading towards the fight of corruption and to develop good governance within public and private sector. These similarities open ways for further collaboration between the two countries. Our focus would be on tourism and education.
The Consul-General enlightened that as Malaysia heads towards a developed country, Malaysians will hold the hands of their Pakistani brothers and sisters and together move forward for mutual benefits