NEW DELHI: The economic relations between Malaysia and India has surpassed the traditional stage following efforts by both countries to raise it to the strategic level.
Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said with India’s economy setting for a higher growth trajectory following economic reforms under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the country offered a vast economic potential and great economic space that Malaysian investors could capitalise on.
“Traditionally, Malaysia and India has good relations but I believe the close relations between Modi and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is important in propelling the relations between both countries for mutual interest, he said at a press conference with Malaysian journalists here today.
Mustapa is in India to accompany Najib who will attend the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit to be held on Jan 25-26.
Commenting on Modi’s speech at the recently concluded World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mustapa said the Indian prime minister had made a strong pitch to investors and gave a strong overview of his commitment to bring India to the world.
During the annual meeting, Modi among others said that the Indian government was removing the red tape and would roll out the red carpet to attract more investments into the country.
On the Malaysia-India trade performance, Mustapa said 2017 was an outstanding year for bilateral trade between both countries as total trade grew 22.3% during the January to November period.
The total trade of US$13.12bil over the period has positioned India as Malaysia’s ninth largest trading partner, and nearing the target of US$$15bil by 2020.
According to him, India which has a population of 1.3 billion people with some 200 million middle-class group, offered great economic space to Malaysian investors in various sectors, whereby currently the majority of Malaysian companies are involved in the construction and healthcare sector in the republic.
“Based on forecast, India’s economy is projected to expand 7.5% annually over the next five years, and considering this potential, it is important for us to promote Malaysia in India.
“Besides construction, the other sectors that have the potential to grow are tourism, cultural, education, information technology, and online business. We have also started collaborating with the small and medium enterprise sector in India,” he said.
Commenting on the status of preliminary pacts worth about US$36bil (RM159.3bil) signed by companies and agencies of both countries during Najib’s working visit to Chennai and New Delhi last year, Mustapa said most of the major projects were still at the “work in progress” stage.
The largest project is the development of an integrated maritime city on Carey Island, Selangor in collaboration with MMC Ports Holdings Sdn Bhd, Sime Darby Property Bhd and Indian company, Adani Ports, which is also involved in the construction of Port Klang’s new port on Carey Island, involving US$32bil.
“The government has not finalised in detail the proposal to expand Port Klang but the proposal has already been submitted to the Cabinet and the National Economic Council. “Port Klang is currently the 12th largest port in the world, so we want to do it holistically,” he said.
Meanwhile, commenting on the strengthening of the ringgit, Mustapa said its appreciation had proven the strength and stability of the country’s economy achieved through various transformation policies introduced by the Najib administration.
It also showed the foreign investors’ confidence to continue investing in Malaysia, he added.
“We are confident there’s no negative impact on the nation’s import and export even though there are those who voice out their concerns, however, it’s certain the strengthening of the ringgit will also make our export more competitive. We are optimistic the strong momentum of our currency will continue in 2018,” he said. - Bernama