Abdullah Says FTA With Pakistan Can Spur Bilateral Trade
7 May 2005
KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Malaysia and Pakistan can spur faster growth in bilateral trade and investments.
He said the FTA, which was expected to be sealed by the end of the year, would open up opportunities for collaboration in new fields such as financial services, Islamic banking, takaful, biotechnology, information and communication technology (ICT) and human capacity building.
"In the long run, we also believe the FTA will help to correct the present imbalance of bilateral trade which is in Malaysia’s favour," he said at a dinner in honour of visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz here Friday.
The free trade pact was proposed during Abdullah’s visit to Islamabad in February this year.
Aziz is leading a 25-member delegation on a three-day official visit to Malaysia that began Thursday.
Abdullah said Malaysia planned to send a trade and investment delegation to Pakistan later this year, to be led by Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz.
"They will look into new products and services that Malaysia can source from Pakistan as well as explore opportunities for investment in Pakistan," he said.
Abdullah welcomed Pakistan’s willingness to consider the possibility of issuing a licence to a Malaysian bank to operate an Islamic bank in Pakistan and also offer takaful and other Islamic financial services.
"Malaysia would also welcome Pakistani industrialists and investors to explore opportunities available in Malaysia not only for the domestic market but also the wider Asean and APEC markets as well.
"Since Asean and its main trading partners such as China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are negotiating FTA, the possibilities are quite limitless," he said.
The Prime Minister said Malaysia’s strategic location at the heart of the Asean region, the country’s advanced infrastructure, political stability and well educated work force were factors which supported foreign investment into Malaysia.
In his speech, Aziz said Pakistan hoped to enhance and diversify its bilateral trade with Malaysia.
He said the close rapport between the two countries had helped to bring about closer cooperation and collaboration in trade, investment, technology and other fields.
He also welcomed Malaysian businessmen and investors to participate in Pakistan’s construction, tourism, telecommunication, IT, agro-based industries, and petroleum and energy sectors.
Aziz said Pakistan, with a population of 167 million people, was experiencing high growth and the country’s economy this year was expected to expand by 7 per cent.