Malaysia-Africa bilateral trade to grow 3%-4% in 2017

Fabrice Zuppo, chocolate maker, displays cocoa beans in his shop in Nice, France, July 17, 2017. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

KUALA LUMPUR: Bilateral trade between Malaysia and Africa is expected to surge about 3% to 4% this year due to Malaysia’s growing influence and presence in the region.

Foreign Ministry Undersecretary for Africa Datuk Abdul Aziz Harun said Malaysia’s investments in Africa were expanding, while the traditional donor-recipient relations were giving way to more mature partnerships.

However, Malaysia-Africa bilateral trade dropped 13.6% to US$6.014bil (RM25.72bil) in 2016 from US$6.81bil (RM29.13bil) in 2015, while Malaysia’s exports to Africa decreased 7.2% to US$18.97bil (RM81.15bil) in 2016 from US$4.66bil (RM19.93bil) in 2015.

“The decrease could be attributed to the current global economic climate,” he told Bernama after attending the Business and Investment Opportunities for Asians into Africa Seminar in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.

To offset the situation, Abdul Aziz called for more exchange visits by public and private sector officials from both countries to promote better understanding and sharing of experiences.

“Bilateral cooperation could safeguard our collective interests in facing the vagaries of the international commodity market,” he said.

He said Malaysia’s main exports to Africa were made up of electrical products and machinery, palm oil and refined petroleum products, while Africa’s top exports to Malaysia were agriculture products, comprising cocoa bean, minerals, fruits and natural rubber.

Quoting the McKinsey Global Institute, the business and economics research arm of McKinsey  & Company, Abdul Aziz said despite political instability in certain parts of northern Africa, the economy of the African continent was moving forward.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, based on the current trajectory, consumer and business spending growth in Africa could be heading towards US$5.6 trillion by 2025. Hence, it still a continent on the move, with attractive opportunities for investors.

Abdul Aziz said the African continent made an impressive economic progress since the last decade, achieving average real annual gross domestic product (GDP) of 3.7% in 2016 compared with 3.6% in 2015, and projected to increase to 4.5% in 2017.

Earlier in his speech, he said in the spirit of the South-South Cooperation, Malaysia started the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme (MTCP) to assist the African region since 1981.

The MTCP was tailored towards the needs of African countries in various fields, ranging from good governance, youth and women empowerment, health and sanitation, economic well-being, and public institutions and education enhancement.

“As at 2016, Malaysia has trained 8,416 officials from African countries in various fields under the MTCP,” he added. - Bernama


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