4 Oktober, 2013

Malaysia-China Economic Summit

His Excellency Xi Jinping; President of the People’s Republic of China,

Honourable Ministers, Senior Officials, Business Leaders and Captains of Industry from China and Malaysia

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome His Excellency President Xi Jinping and the distinguished delegation from the People’s Republic of China to Malaysia once again. “Selamat Datang” and Xia Wu Hao. We are extremely honoured that His Excellency President Xi decided to make Malaysia a priority stop during his visit to South East Asia.

Your visit to Malaysia, Sir, exemplifies our countries’ solid bilateral relations. Our ties with China on a people-to-people level are deeply rooted in our shared history. And the bonds between our governments – forged when Malaysia became the first South East Asian nation to establish diplomatic relations with China in 1974 – grow stronger with every passing year.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the four decades since we established relations, the global centre of gravity has shifted to the East. The breath taking rise of Asian economies, and the recent financial crisis, have combined to turn the spotlight our way.

By the end of the decade, Asia’s output will exceed that of Europe and North America put together. And with economic modernisation comes a growing stature on the world stage. From Washington to Wellington, people are wondering how we will use that influence; what Asia’s contribution to the world’s great challenges will be.

Many are searching our history for clues; they seek to illuminate Asia’s future by looking to its past. This is understandable, but it will not give the full picture. Asian nations are pursuing development in our time, not our ancestors’. Our economies have come to the world’s attention in an age of great technological change; when markets, economies and people are more connected than ever before. Yes, we have rich histories to draw on, but our growth model cannot be predicated on the past alone. It must be equitable, sustainable, and suited to a new era of transnational challenges. Asia’s rise comes at a time of great change. But as the Chinese proverb says, when the wind of change blows, some build walls; while others build windmills.

As Asia assumes a greater role in world affairs, the decisions we make nationally, bilaterally and regionally will have a profound impact on the global economy. We can show through our actions that Asia’s influence will yield peace and prosperity – in our nations, our region and our world.

And I believe that, by continuing our tradition of mutual co-operation in pursuit of shared ambitions, China and Malaysia can make a strong contribution to this agenda. Whether on bilateral trade relations or international efforts to build a more sustainable global economy, we are strongest when we work together.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Our nations have been trading partners since the early Ming dynasty, when the first Chinese trade envoys arrived at Melaka. But rarely has the depth of our economic connection been stronger. The People’s Republic of China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner since 2009; last year, more than US$94 billion of our trade was with China. Malaysia is China’s largest trading partner among the ASEAN countries; we will soon become only the third Asian nation whose trade with China exceeds $100 billion.

The vitality of our bilateral trade relations helped see us through the global financial crisis; it also explains why Malaysia is so well represented in major trade fairs in China. Last month, at the Tenth China-ASEAN Expo in Nanning, 138 Malaysian companies participated, and increased sales by 12 per cent on the year before. We thank the Chinese government for both their warm hospitality and for the tremendous support in hosting the Malaysian contingent in Nanning.
Ladies and gentlemen,

We also laud the on-going initiatives to facilitate further trade, including our bilateral Currency Swap Arrangement agreement. Malaysia is the first country outside China to use renminbi for trade settlement; our central bank is the first in ASEAN to hold renminbi reserves. 2.3% of the world trade settled in renminbi is settled in Malaysia, but too few entrepreneurs are aware that it can be done. We should do more to deepen and promote this particular monetary co-operation, which can be so beneficial for both our countries.

We should also do more to encourage flows of Foreign Direct Investment. As of 2012, Malaysia’s cumulative FDI into China stands at US$ 6.3 billion; the cross flow from China into Malaysia, however, is a fraction of that. We thank the Chinese government for the support and opportunities afforded to Malaysian companies; as they continue to explore the business opportunities in China, and as reforms under the new leadership gather greater momentum, we look forward to receiving further investment in future.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In the last two years, the bilateral cooperation between our nations has accelerated. The agreement to establish the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park was one highlight; today’s signing of the Five Year Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation by both of our trade ministers on behalf of our two governments is another.

This Programme marks the beginning of a new stage in our relationship. And it sets out a clear vision of our common ambition: deepening bilateral and economic relations, yielding an elevated comprehensive strategic partnership between our countries.

The Programme emphasises the sharing of knowledge, technological resources and investment in the service of sustainable economic development. It also maps out mutually beneficial initiatives aimed at expanding business and investment opportunities. And President Xi and I have set an ambitious target: that by the end of the fifth year of this programme, bilateral trade between Malaysia and China will hit US$160 billion.

The Programme is a “rolling plan”, including an early harvest of low hanging fruits – those that have been identified for immediate implementation – as well as those which require further development. It covers many areas of cooperation: agriculture, energy and mineral resources; information and telecommunications; manufacturing, infrastructure, and engineering; tourism, logistics and retailing.

One of the “Early Harvest Projects” involves the import and export of materials for processing at the industrial parks in Qinzhou and Kuantan, which will make the parks more competitive – and attract more investment from entrepreneurs in both our countries. Another example is the operation and expansion of Kuantan Port in Malaysia and Weifang Port in China, which will increase the capacity and services of both ports – and make a positive contribution to external trade. As Kuantan seeks to double its capacity, we welcome Guangxi Beibu’s acquisition of a 40% stake in the management of the Kuantan Port.

The Programme will also benefit our SMEs. By enhancing technology transfers and promoting trade fairs, it will help Malaysia increase SMEs’ share of our GDP by 2020, in line with our 10-year SME Master Plan.

We welcome the technical collaboration with Chinese automotive companies, which are helping us meet our National Automotive Policy objectives, and we look forward to new areas of co-operation, in everything from halal goods and medical device manufacturing to infrastructure works and energy saving. With Malaysian companies boasting considerable expertise in some of these areas, we look forward to the continuing support from the central government and the local authorities in China.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we position Malaysia as an international education hub, I am particularly pleased to note that we are given the privilege of hosting the first Chinese University outside China: Xiamen University Malaysia Campus.

We are thankful that a local company, Sunsuria, supported the project from the beginning, including facilitating the purchase of the land. I wish to reassure them of our unwavering support in facilitating the approvals required for the university’s construction.

With an investment of approximately RM 1.2 billion, the 150 acre Xiamen University Malaysia campus will accommodate 10,000 students, and mark another milestone in our bilateral cooperation in education. With its establishment, we can expect to attract more international students from China and the wider region, leveraging our strategic position – not just as a host to several branch campuses of other international and world class universities, but also within ASEAN.

Ladies and gentlemen,

2013 marks the 22nd anniversary of ASEAN-China relations. Our relationship has grown deeper and broader with time. With a regular pattern of high-level dialogues, consultations and meetings, we have facilitated frank discussions and the honest exchange of views on issues of common interest. These in turn have helped build and reinforce mutual trust and confidence, as ASEAN and China have found innovative and constructive ways to deal with the region’s challenges – as well as its opportunities.

Together, we built the largest free trade area in the world. The China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement comprises 1.9 billion people in a market worth US$ 6 trillion. And already, the results have been phenomenal. When relations were established in 1991, ASEAN-China trade was a mere US$8 billion; last year, it reached US$318.6 billion.

The ASEAN-China Investment Agreement has helped create an open, transparent and competitive investment regime in the region. Although FDI flow in 2012 slowed due to challenging externalities, we are confident it will pick up again as China continues to invest more in ASEAN generally, and in Malaysia specifically. The result will be greater prosperity for almost 2 billion people.

As we look toward the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community – and all the opportunities it will unlock – we are heartened that China, under the new leadership of President Xi and his dynamic team, will continue to actively forge strategic economic partnerships in South East Asia; building peace, prosperity and stability in the region.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The bonds between our nations were forged in the past, but grow stronger in the present. The Five Year Programme marks the next step in our ever-strengthening relationship. By committing to further co-operation in pursuit of common aims, we can drive development and progress; not just in our countries, but in our region and the wider world. China’s dream and Asia’s promise can be fulfilled together: in an age marked by prosperity and stability in equal measure.

That is the premise on which this Summit was founded. I would like to commend the Ministry of Commerce China, the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronics, the Malaysia-China Business Council, the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia, MITI, MIDA and MATRADE for organising the Summit.

I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the critical role of the private sector – particularly the Malaysia-China Business Council and the Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce – in enhancing our two way trade and investment. Governments may have the best intentions, but sometimes we need an extra push from businesses themselves to fully realise them.

As the networking gets underway this evening, I wish the business delegation every success. I hope you had a memorable stay in Malaysia, and I look forward to hosting you again as the VISIT MALAYSIA 2014 tourism campaign begins in three months’ time. In the meantime, I wish all of you good health and great prosperity. Xie xie Ni.

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