Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh and Good Evening,
His Excellency Shri T.S. Tirumurti, High Commissioner of India to Malaysia,
Mr. Yogendra Prasad, President, Institute of Economic Studies (IES),
Ms. Sangeeta Singh, Executive Director, IES,
Dr. S.K. Nanda, Member of National Disaster Management Authority,
Mr. Sachin Adhikari, CEO Asia Pacific of Britt Worldwide India Pvt. Ltd,
Mr. Ajay Sharma, Managing Director, Lama Rice Pvt. Ltd,
Mr. B.K. Sudarshan, Chairman, Sudarshan Group of Companies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by offering my heartiest congratulations to the Institute of Economic Studies India and the High Commission of India for organizing the Seminar on ‘Indo-Malaysia Economic Co-Operation’. I am honoured to be here with more than 100 participants celebrating the conclusion of the seminar this evening. For first time visitors from India, I hope it is not too late for me to wish you “Selamat Datang” to Kuala Lumpur.
This year is very special for both Malaysia and India as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of Malaysia-India bilateral relations. Throughout the past six decades, we have engaged with each other through a number of different international forums, including the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Commonwealth, the Group of 15 and the Group of 77 plus China, and the Indian Ocean Rim Association. And I am pleased to say that our engagements over that period have increased dramatically.
On the regional front, we have engagements through the ASEAN-India FTA where both Malaysia and India have been enjoying preferential tariffs and other trade facilitation measures. And our economic integration will be further deepened under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP, which also includes China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Australia and New Zealand. We look forward to its eventual conclusion, hopefully by the end of this year or early 2018.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Bilaterally, we have the Malaysia–India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement which came into force on 1 July 2011. It covers trade in goods, trade in services, investments and movement of natural persons. It value-adds to the benefits shared from the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement and further facilitate and enhance two-way trade, services, investment and economic relations in general.
Malaysia-India bilateral relations have made significant strides, when the Prime Minister of India, Honourable Narendra Modi and Malaysia’s Prime Minister, YAB Dato’ Sri Mohd. Najib Tun Abdul Razak upgraded our two countries’ relationship to that of an Enhanced Strategic Partnership, during Prime Minister Modi’s official visit to Kuala Lumpur in November 2015.
And just over a week ago, from 30 March to 4 April 2017, YAB Prime Minister undertook an official visit to India, which was his third official visit as Prime Minister. He visited Chennai, Jaipur and New Delhi. YAB Prime Minister brought with him the largest delegation so far, comprising 10 Federal Ministers, including MITI Minister and 200 business representatives to India. This shows the increasing importance of India as our strategic business partner.
The visit has been very fruitful as both Leaders agreed that the relationship between Malaysia and India is currently at an all-time historic high. In fact, one of the highlights of the visit was the exchange of 31 business Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with combined total investments estimated at USD35.99 billion, or almost RM160 billion.
This is the largest B2B MOUs, both in terms of number and value, ever witnessed by the Prime Minister in Malaysia’s history, to date. These MOUs are related to port construction, highways construction, solar power plant, development of smart city & technology Park, regasification terminal project, coconut & palm oil development, and higher learning/education.
This again demonstrates the confidence of the business community in Malaysia-India trade and economic relations. Trade figures between Malaysia and India over the period 2003 to 2015 has increased by more than four-fold. Last year, India was Malaysia’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 3.3 percent, or USD10.7 billion of Malaysia’s total trade. Malaysia, meanwhile, is ranked as the twenty-first largest foreign investor in India globally, and the second largest from ASEAN.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am also pleased to note that based on our records, Malaysian companies have already invested US$4.5 billion in India. Indian investment in Malaysia is about US$1.5 billion.
These statistics indicated the significant presence and active participation of many Malaysian companies in India. To name a few, these include Khazanah, Malaysian sovereign fund, with investments in Axiata-Idea, Apollo Hospital, Dr. Reddy’s, Fractal Analytic; Air-Asia India, with headquarters in Chennai; Scomi Engineering built the Phase 1 of Mumbai Monorail; IJM developed the “Raintree Park”, a Malaysian Integrated Township Project, in Hyderabad, Telangana; and Petronas, Malaysian oil and gas company has partnered with Tata Motors to launch new co-branded engine oil in India.
I believe, the revived interests and optimism in India’s prospects by businesses is also contributed by the numerous and bold initiatives undertaken by Honourable Prime Minister Modi, such as the Make in India, introduction of GST, Digital India, Skill India and Smart City, just to name a few.
Likewise, I am also pleased to note that Indian investors continue to have confidence in Malaysia, as shown by their decisions to expand and diversify their existing operations in Malaysia. In 2016, India was ranked the ninth largest investor in Malaysia, with total approved investments of nearly USD300 million in eight manufacturing projects.
Reliance Group is among the notable Indian companies in Malaysia, with business in textiles & textile products. Reliance is the world’s largest integrated polyester and textile company with world class manufacturing facilities at Nilai and Malacca, and employs 5,417 workers.
Other notable Indian companies are RP Chemical in chemicals & chemical products; Biocon and Ranbaxy in pharmaceutical products; JG Containers in non-metallic products; Forte International in plastic products; and Tamco Switchgear in the electrical & electronics industry.
Indian firms are also active in our services sectors. These include ICICI Bank Limited in finance; Tech Mahindra ICT Services, Wipro, Tata Consultancy and Crest Business Solutions in IT; Sky Blue Media in the media advertising sector and Manipal International in the education and healthcare sector.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased with the active presence of Malaysian and Indian companies in each other's countries and the various fields that they are involved in.
Nevertheless, there is still plenty of scope for expansion, particularly in trade. While in India, YAB Prime Minister has reiterated that Malaysia and India should strive to achieve the USD15 billion bilateral trade target in the next two to three years. As such, the key stakeholders in specific sectors should also collectively set their plans to increase bilateral trade in order to help meet this target.
In this connection, I would like to urge both the Malaysian and Indian business communities to continue to leverage on the strong and steady bilateral ties that have been built over the years. It is noteworthy that after all, our engagement transcends trade; we are very much connected by culture and history.
The Malaysian Indian community forms a very strong bond between our two countries. Malaysia is home to the largest Indian diaspora outside India, and seven percent of Malaysia’s population is of Indian origin. Indian Malaysians are a crucial part of our unique diversity, and their cultures and faiths have helped to make the rich and varied tapestry of our Nation.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The joint statement on the 60th anniversary of India-Malaysia diplomatic relations, issued on 1 April 2017, right after the bilateral meeting of both Prime Ministers, acknowledged this point: “The presence of a very large Indian-origin community in Malaysia and their significant participation in the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (the gathering of Indian diaspora in Bangalore, India in January 2017) serve to bring the two countries even closer.”
Premised on this strong foundation and the positive developments between Malaysia and India, I am confident our bilateral trade and investments will continue to flourish.
On a final note, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to IES for inviting me to this event this evening. I also wish to congratulate the IES for successfully organising this seminar and the High Commission of India for the critical role in fostering bilateral business relationships between our two countries. I wish all the participants the very best in all your future endeavours, and I hope that you have managed to find the time to enjoy the many charms that Malaysia has to offer.