Malaysia is China’s No. 1 trading partner in Southeast Asia and a big investment and tourism destination. Next Thursday in Pudong, Malaysia’s trade minister will discuss business opportunities.
The ties between China and Malaysia grow tighter as economic activities boom. Next year will be the Malaysia-China Friendship Year to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the establishment of the diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Bilateral trade grew by 15.7 percent year on year to US$50.9 billion in the first half of this year, according to China’s General Administration of Customs.
China’s imports from Malaysia rose from US$27.7 billion in the first half of 2012 to US$28.7 billion for the same period this year. Exports to Malaysia increased 36 percent year on year to US$22.2 billion in the first six months.
Malaysia has the third-largest economy in Southeast Asia, and it’s China’s top trade partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Electrical machinery was the majority of China’s imports from Malaysia in the first half, accounting for 61 percent of the total. The top three products China exported to Malaysia during the same period were electrical machinery, other machinery, and furniture and bedding, accounting for 18, 12 and 7 percent respectively, according to China Customs.
Trade between Shanghai and Malaysia played a large role in bilateral national trade. The value reached US$12.1 billion in the first six months, almost a quarter of bilateral trade between the two countries.
At the Consulate General of Malaysia in Shanghai’s Malaysian Trade and Investment Center, Trade Consul Mansor Shah Wahid told Shanghai Daily that he’s optimistic about the prospects of trade between Shanghai and Malaysia.
“Shanghai is becoming an international trade center, which will help realize its ambition of becoming a global financial hub,” he said in an interview last week.
“The city has become a global procurement center and a number of multinational companies are setting up procurement centers in Shanghai. Through this gateway we are able to promote our products and services from Malaysia,” he added.
The State Council, China’s cabinet, recently approved the trial in Shanghai of a first-of-its-kind free trade zone on China’s mainland. The Ministry of Commerce said the experimental project aims to “explore a new path and a new mode of opening up to the outside world.”
“There are many models of free trade zones in the world.
Taking Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai as an example, foreign companies set up operations there and distribute to northern Africa and Central Asia. China can also play that role,” Mansor said.
One of the best economic records
“We are engaging with international procurement centers in Shanghai that are responsible for making sourcing decisions within Asia for multinationals,” he continued. “So our office here could leverage that to distribute Malaysian products and services to global markets, including the United States, Canada, Europe and Australia. We also have offices in Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu doing similar work, because China is very important to us.”
Malaysia has had one of the best economic records in Asia, with GDP growing an average 6.5 percent since it gained independence in 1957. The country has entered a new phase of development that aims to expand economic growth from the more developed west coast region, the capital city Kuala Lumpur and federal government’s seat Putrajaya, to other economic zones.
These include the Northern Corridor that focuses on modern agriculture, manufacturing and design; the East Coast Economic Region that prioritizes tourism, oil and gas, and manufacturing; Iskandar Malaysia, formerly known as the Iskandar Development Region, focusing on financial services, and electrical and electronics services; the Sarawak Corridor for resource-based industry; and Sabah for agriculture-based industry and tourism.
Trade Consul Mansor said the process is similar to China’s urbanization that is on a much bigger scale.
His office facilitates Malaysian investments in Chinese markets, including commercial properties, pharmaceuticals, auto dealerships and distribution, and water treatment.
The Consulate General of Malaysia in Shanghai will hold a seminar next Thursday in Pudong’s Lujiazui area, where Minister of International Trade and Industry, Dato’ Sri Mustapa Mohamed, will discuss trade and investment opportunities in Malaysia.