Malaysia, China likely to discuss wide range of issues to enhance economic collaboration - experts 


Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) executive director Dr Anthony Dass expected both nations’ focus to be on innovation and inclusiveness

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and China are likely to discuss issues focusing on innovation and inclusiveness, alongside green energy and commodities to enhance investments and economic collaboration during the visit of Chinese Premier Li Qiang to Malaysia, say experts.

Li, who assumed office as China's premier in March last year, is scheduled to arrive in Malaysia later today to kick-off his three-day official visit in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China.

Li’s visit is at the invitation of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

On the meeting of the two leaders, Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) executive director Dr Anthony Dass expected both nations’ focus to be on innovation and inclusiveness, which would support the MADANI framework and further strengthen the trade, investments and services relationship.

"Looking at the MADANI framework, China could play an important role as our framework aligns with the values and principles advocated in 2013 under China’s Community Shared Principle,” he told Bernama.

Anthony said while Malaysia’s focus is to improve its competitiveness, fiscal position, debt levels, service delivery and governance, discussions between the two leaders are expected to centre around these areas for the benefit of both nations.

Malaysia-China Friendship Association president Datuk Abdul Majid Ahmad Khan said the two countries have been forging healthy and dynamic relations over the past five decades, evidenced by the strong trade performance recorded over the years.

He said that apart from further consolidating existing links and identifying new sectors for cooperation, Anwar and Li are anticipated to facilitate the growth of Malaysian commodities, such as palm oil and durian-related products as well as enhance technology cooperation, which has been on the rise in recent years.

"Other new areas of focus may include aerospace, communications and green energy sectors," he said.

China has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner for 15 consecutive years since 2009. Last year, total trade with China was valued at RM450.84 billion (US$98.80 billion), contributing 17.1 per cent to Malaysia’s global trade.

Discussions on renewable energy on the cards

Echoing Abdul Majid’s views, Anthony said as both Malaysia and China are investing in clean technologies like solar, wind and hydro power, discussions on renewable energy are likely to be held to harness the green technology besides merely focusing on technology.

"Such discussions will assist us to reduce greenhouse gas emission, address climate change and unlock new opportunities,” he said.

He also anticipated that electrical and electronics (E&E) related trade and investment issues would be put on the table, as developments in the segment would have economic spillovers across industries like E&E and electric vehicles (EVs) -- a key strategy in the New Industrial Master Plan 2030 (NIMP 2030).

"Other areas of discussions would be on data centre, infrastructure, information and communication technology (ICT), digital related services, connectivity, rare earth, new EVs and future growth areas,” he said.

Malaysia, China to further deepen economic cooperation

Abdul Majid said that over the years, Malaysia and China have been utilising three main platforms, namely the Five-Year Programme for Economic and Trade Cooperation, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement to advance and deepen their economic collaboration.

"During Premier Li’s visit, the contents of these platforms are expected to be further enriched to deepen the cooperation between the two countries,” he said.

Taking the BRI for example, he said new sectors, such as skill training and areas that could directly impact people's living standards, could be included in the initiative.

Others included greater emphasis on people-to-people exchanges among think-tanks, media and cultural institutions, he said.

Abdul Majid believed that Li’s visit will further strengthen the existing ties between Malaysia and China.

"There is much goodwill on both sides and a commitment to further deepen relations.

"Given the past remarkable achievements and the mutual benefits from the relationship, we can be optimistic that Malaysia-China relations will be further elevated and deepened in the future,” he said.

Nonetheless, Anthony cautioned that the changes in global and regional dynamics, including shifts in global economic power, geopolitical realignments and regional security concerns could influence Malaysia-China relationship.

"For instance, the export-oriented industries like E&E and solar could face potential impact from the geopolitical tension between the United States and China.

"Here, we need to focus on global market diversification to avoid concentration risk,” he said.

On issues such as territorial claims in the South China Sea, he said Malaysia, like other Southeast Asian nations, should continue to balance its economic interests with China while safeguarding its sovereignty and stability. - Bernama

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