The Malaysia-Qatar Joint Trade Committee (JTC) held its inaugural meeting on Monday, focusing on efforts towards enhancing trade and economic ties.
The meeting was co-chaired by International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed and Dr Khalid Bin Muhammad Al-Attiyah, Acting Minister of Business and Trade and Minister of State for International Cooperation, Qatar.
"The JTC meeting discussed and reached an understanding on various bilateral trade and investment issues as well as cooperation programmes," said the Malaysian ministry in a statement issued after the meeting here.
It said the economic cooperation programme highlighted by Malaysia at the meeting included bilateral cooperation in industry, finance, agriculture, standards and R&D in biotechnology; investments in the field of tourism, hospitality, finance, real estate, industries and a distribution centre for ASEAN and the East Asian region; and participation of Malaysian companies in the construction and consultancy services in Qatar's infrastructure development.
The JTC meeting is a follow up to the trade agreement signed in Kuala Lumpur on May 20, 2009 during the visit of the Emir of Qatar to Malaysia.
"Both ministers were hopeful that the JTC meetings will serve as a useful mechanism to further enhance trade and investment for mutual benefit of the two countries," the statement added.
At the meeting, Mustapa highlighted that efforts should be intensified not only at increasing but diversifying the volume of trade and investment.
"The private sector of both countries should be encouraged to assume a more active role in exploring trade and investment opportunities in Malaysia and Qatar," he said.
In this context, he welcomed the Qatari government's reform efforts to encourage greater private sector and foreign investors' participation in the development of the country.
In his discussions with his counterpart, Mustapa thanked the Qatari government for the opportunity given to Malaysian companies to participate in Qatari's economic development specifically in construction and professional services.
He emphasised that Malaysia had the ability to contribute towards Qatar's development strategy and recorded willingness to share Malaysia's experience in Qatar's development planning.
Malaysian investments in Qatar were mostly in infrastructure development including construction of highways and airports and in downstream activities in the oil and gas industry.
Mustapa also informed his counterpart about the capability of Malaysian companies in public transportation, including the monorail and hazardous liquid waste management facility.
Saying that there was potential for increased investment cross-flows in the manufacturing sector between both countries, the minister noted Qatar's investment in Malaysia, specifically in Pavilion Mall and Asian Finance Bank.
Besides welcoming more Qatari investments in the property sector and in Iskandar Malaysia, Mustapa also encouraged more Qataris to visit Malaysia, a value-for-money destination which is now becoming increasingly known for its health tourism.
In 2008, Qatar was Malaysia's eight largest trading partner among 15 West Asian countries.
Bilateral trade between Qatar and Malaysia totalled US$510.3 million (RM1.8 billion), an increase of 61.5 per cent from the previous year.
Exports amounted to US$241.1 million (RM835.5 million), a slight decrease of 0.2 per cent from last year while imports amounted to US$269.2 million (RM935.4 million), a jump by more than 11-fold from last year, driven mainly by the increase in crude oil prices.
In 2008, Malaysia's major export items to Qatar were transformers and electric switching gears, scientific equipment, metal products and processed food.
Malaysia's major import items were crude petroleum and petroleum products.
For Jan-July 2009, total trade with Qatar reached US$289.8 million (RM1.0 billion), registering a 22.2 per cent growth compared with the same period in 2008.
Mustapa also welcomed the interest shown by the Qatar Businessmen Association to visit Malaysia early 2010 and reassured them that the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) would facilitate the visit.
Source : Bernama
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