Malaysia wants to further strengthen its relations with Bangladesh and explore opportunities in the areas of trade, investment, and tourism, its envoy said Friday.
“We see more Malaysian companies taking interest to invest in Bangladesh. Malaysian companies that are already established in Bangladesh are expanding their foothold,” said acting Malaysian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Amir Farid bin Abu Hasan.
He was addressing a discussion with journalists organised by the Malaysian High Commission at its premises in the city marking the 62nd year of Malaysia’s independence that falls on August 31.
The envoy said there are a lot of activities going on to improve trade relations between the two countries.
Bangladesh-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BMCCI) organised an event in Kuala Lumpur titled ‘Showcase Bangladesh’ in July this year to promote trade and investment between the two countries.
“We’ll continue to find ways. A lot of Malaysian businesses are coming to Bangladesh,” Amir Farid said.
The Southeast Asian nation, which strives to become a high-income country, is already enjoying a strong bilateral relation with Bangladesh, which is moving towards a middle-income nation. “We want to take forward the relations further,” he said
Farid said Malaysia’s total trade with Bangladesh was $2.37 billion last year, a 35.6 percent rise compared to the year before. Bangladesh’s export to Malaysia, however, was only $260 million.
According to Bangladesh Bank, Malaysia’s foreign direct investment in 2018 was $92.74 million.
“Both nations enjoy a relationship that’s not only seen at the level of governments but can also be seen at the people-to-people level. I must allude to the fact that there’re many similarities we share in terms of food, weather and to a certain extent, culture,” the Malaysian envoy said.
He said Bangladesh was Malaysia’s 22nd largest trading partner in 2018.
Major Malaysian exports to Bangladesh include chemical products, metal, crude petroleum, palm oil, agriculture and electrical and electronic products. There are many more opportunities of exports to Bangladesh, including consumer goods, construction services, Islamic banking, oil, gas and healthcare, he said.
Malaysia is also a major tourist destination for the Bangladeshi tourists and healthcare. More than 150,000 Bangladeshis travelled to Malaysia last year.
Malaysia is becoming a hub of medical tourism, especially due to its quality care and affordable cost, Amir Farid said.
He said diplomatic engagement between Malaysia and Bangladesh is becoming stronger, with high-level visits between the two nations.
In 2017, Malaysia was one of the few countries that immediately responded to Bangladesh’s call for assistance from international community during the early weeks of Rohingya crisis.
Malaysian government set up a field hospital near Kutupalong in Cox’s Bazar for the Rohingya as well as locals, he added.
“Malaysia would like to continue to work closely and engage Bangladesh government in various areas of cooperation – in the field of bilateral and multilateral ways,” Amir Farid said.
He said Malaysia, as a member of ASEAN, is working with Bangladesh and Myanmar on addressing the Rohingya crisis.
Asked when Malaysia is going to open the labour market, Amir Farid said discussions are still ongoing. “We’re working together to find a better deal for both countries.”
Malaysian High Commission’s First Secretary (Immigration and Consular) Mohamad Yahya bin Rahamat, Tourism Malaysia Dhaka’s Marketing Manager Mohammed Shoeb and Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council’s Market Development Director Farah Delah Suhaimi also spoke at the discussion.