ON Monday, Oct 26, Austria celebrates her National Day in remembrance of the political developments following WWII. On that day in 1955, the Austrian Parliament passed the constitutional law on permanent neutrality and Austrian embassies around the world celebrate this special day by hosting a number of different events for Austrian citizens and friends of Austria.
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, this year is different. Many events related to the Austrian National Day in 2020 are virtual, both in Austria and all around the world.
In Malaysia, today we look at our strong bilateral relationship based on mutual respect. We appreciate the economic ties between our two countries. During this crisis, Malay-sia facilitated the transport of over 60 million medical gloves to Austria, a testimonial of the strong friendship between our two nations.
Last year, the Malaysian Prime Minister and other ministers visited our capital city, Vienna, which is not only one of the most livable cities in the world but also the headquarters of more than 40 international organisations. Austria’s international orientation is also reflected in its economic activities – it is one of the most open economies in the world with exports in goods and services contributing about 60% to our GDP. The bilateral relationship with Malaysia amounts to RM2.25bil exports from Austria to Malaysia and RM1.94bil imports, which makes Malaysia one of our most important trading partners in Asia. The most traded products include integrated electronic components, machinery and electrical devices. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected this year’s foreign trade exchange but we are confident of reviving the earlier dynamic development in the near future.
Malaysia is home to more than 50 Austrian companies with investments reaching RM5.4bil in different sectors – like oil and gas, healthcare, automotive, electronics, plastic goods and construction materials – sharing their technical expertise with local partners. Many of them act as a regional hub to cover Asia-Pacific from Malaysia. New investments are in the pipeline, especially in the sectors of food and beverage, environment and renewable energies.
In the past, tourism between our two countries have also increased in both directions. Malaysia is very attractive to Austrian tourists looking for pristine beaches and rainforests as well as discovering vibrant sealife. We have a lot in common, as Austria is also blessed with outstanding natural beauty such as spectacular mountain scenery and crystal clear lakes. Austria as a small, compact country is easy to get to know and pleasant to visit. Many visitors, including from Malaysia, appreciate the rich cultural heritage in cities like Vienna and Salzburg. In some way, Austria is Europe in a nutshell – as Malaysia is “Truly Asia”.
The number of guests from South-East Asia has almost tripled in the last five years. This year, the Covid-19 pandemic makes it nearly impossible to visit other countries and many will miss the 2020 Austrian National Day celebrations featuring typical culinary delicacies like Sacher cake and Vienna-style schnitzel, Austrian wines and our famous classical music. However, we are confident that by Oct 26,2021, we will have overcome this crisis together and we will have the opportunity again to celebrate the Austrian National Day in Austria, Malaysia and around the globe.
DR MICHAEL POSTL
Austria to Malaysia