Malaysia’s trade can reach RM2t this year

26.01.2018

With the better economic outlook globally and if we try harder, RM2t can be achieved, says minister

Malaysia’s trade could reach the RM2 trillion mark this year, fuelled by brighter global economic prospects and diversification of Malaysian exports, said Second International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.

Last year, he said Malaysia recorded a total trade of over RM1.7 trillion compared to the RM1.49 trillion in 2016.

“If you ask whether we can repeat the double-digit growth, I think we can…but most experts that we talk to will say it is impossible,” he said.

“We rose from RM1.49 trillion to RM1.7 trillion in one year, so with the better economic outlook globally and if we try harder, RM2 trillion can be achieved,” he added.

According to Ong, there is vast potential for Malaysia to export more automotive and automotive parts to China, given the encouraging economic expansion of the 1.38 billion populated nation.

He said last year alone, total trade with China stood at RM374.2 billion.

“We can continue to cater to the expanding demand from China, especially in sectors such as electrical and electronics, automotive and automotive parts,” Ong told reporters after opening the 20th Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference 2018 yesterday.

“For instance, Malaysia exported US$12 billion (RM46.56 billion) worth of automotive parts last year — but this is not the real potential.

“By catering to the growing demand in China and other countries for automotive parts, I think we can do up to US$40 billion in this particular sector,” he added.

Meanwhile, Ong said the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership — expected to be inked in Chile in March — is still clouded by the cautiousness of member countries Canada and Mexico.

Ong said both countries, which share borders with the US, may be “careful” about not going against the interests of their neighbour.

“They will be very careful. Whether we can conclude it in a definite time is still a challenge,” he said.

In addition, Ong said the European Union’s (EU) move to phase out the use of palm oil by 2021 will pose a challenge to resume the much delayed Malaysia-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

However, the minister said it would not be feasible to suspend a potential trade partnership due to the sheer size of the EU market, which comprises 28 countries.

“Banning palm oil is a challenge. We need to resolve it.

“We cannot suspend this (FTA) because of this palm oil issue because the EU is a very important market,” he said.

“We are still trying to convince them. It is a market you cannot ignore,” Ong added.


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