Reports by HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, LOSHANA K. SHAGAR and RAHMAH GHAZALI
BILATERAL trade and investment were the main topics of discussion between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and US President Donald Trump at the White House in September.
In explaining the crux of discussion during his working visit to the United States, Najib said business ties was one of the main focus as the Trump-led US administration seemed to have a different view on trade policies compared to the previous administrations.
“As such, Malaysia took a proactive step by offering a value proposition to the US through increased investments from EPF and Khazanah Nasional Bhd, as well as cooperation between Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) and Boeing,” he said.
Najib was addressing questions and doubts over his US trip at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
The first question was raised by Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) during the question-and-answer session.
Najib added that many forms of two-way cooperation were discussed, especially in terms of trade, investment, security, defence and counter-terrorism efforts.
In hitting out at those who misinterpreted his statement of strengthening the US economy to undermine his efforts at expanding long-term investment, Najib said those comments were disappointing.
He added that he had explained to Trump that Malaysia was a competitive nation capable of investing in developed nations like the United States.
“EPF’s investment in the US is currently valued at US$6bil (RM25.4bil), and it intends to increase this by another US$3bil to US$4bil (RM12.7bil to RM17bil). The total will be 17% of EPF’s total foreign investments.
“As of June 2017, foreign investments by EPF, which is 29% of the group’s total investments, have contributed to 32.5% of its revenue in the second quarter of 2017.
“This clearly shows that even though the investment portfolio was less than 30%, it gives significant revenue to EPF.
“The rakyat will enjoy the benefits in higher dividends, as opposed to EPF investing in countries with limited markets,” he said.
Najib added that Khazanah had US$400mil (RM1.7bil) worth of investments in high technology companies in the Silicon Valley, and was looking at new investments.
On the decision by MAS to buy Boeing planes, he said it was done by MAS management, Boeing and the board of directors without political intervention, as explained by former MAS chief executive officer Peter Bellew.
Other issues that were discussed at the Trump meeting included the situation on the Korean peninsula, the plight of the Rohingya refugees and South China Sea, Najib said.
On the Korean peninsula, he said both nations raised concerns over the peace and security of the Asia-Pacific region that was threatened by the nuclear and ballistic missile testing going on in North Korea.
“I have stated that Malaysia has taken steps to abide by all United Nations resolutions relating to the North Korea threat, including removing North Korean diplomatic officers from Malaysia, and we are reviewing our links to North Korea, including political and economic relations.
“Malaysia is also considering closing our embassy in Pyongyang and moving the mission to Beijing. We have also introduced visa for entry of North Korean nationals to Malaysia,” he added.
On an additional question by Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR-Permatang Pauh), Najib said efforts to strengthen ties with the United States did not mean Malaysia was changing its foreign policies.
“Our foreign policies are based on our fundamental principles, which do not simply change according to the situation,” he said.
On why he stayed at the Trump International Hotel instead of Blair House, Najib said it was a trivial matter.
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