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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 14/04/2010

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Malaysia is keen to enhance trade ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council nations and a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will further boost business ties with the Gulf countries, the country's minister said.

"We believe that a FTA with the GCC is necessary to further enhancing ties between the business sectors of Malaysia and the region," Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed told reporters after the inauguration of the third Malaysia Services Exhibition (MSE 2010) in Dubai on Tuesday.

The FTA will have a significant impact in expanding bilateral trade and investment between Malaysia and the Gulf region, he said: "Malaysia has been in talks with the GCC Secretariat but no serious discussions have started so far. The GCC Secretariat is also presently busy with discussions on-going with several other countries," he added.

He said Malaysia has strong relations with the GCC and UAE specially is the top trade partner in the region. The minister said 2009 was a difficult year for both the countries, but there are positive signs to boost trade this year as first two months trade between the two countries jumped by 27 per cent.

Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE's Minister of Foreign Trade, said the UAE strongly supports FTA between Malaysia and GCC states. Lubna said as Malaysia's largest trade partner in West Asia, the UAE highly encourages further discussions on this matter."

Last year, despite the global crisis, UAE's non-oil foreign trade reached 181 billion, with exports growing by 9 per cent to about 18 billion. The UAE minister invited Malaysia to join the efforts of UAE in developing clean technologies and related services.

She mentioned that Malaysian companies have been involved in some of UAE's top developments, such as the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai and Al Reem Island in Abu Dhabi. "We look forward to sustaining our partnership in future property and infrastructure projects. The UAE is one of more than 56 countries that benefit from Malaysia's service expertise," she said.

Malaysia is showcasing the increasing strength and global role of its eight industry clusters at a three-day exhibition as part of its unfaltering efforts to tap into the highly-promising markets of the UAE and other parts of West Asia. Over 150 companies and organisations are participating in the fair, looking at closer engagement with the West Asian markets in eight service clusters — Professional Services, Oil & Gas; Construction; Information & Communications Technology (ICT); Healthcare; Franchising; Education & Specialised Training, and Financial Services.

By Abdul Basit


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