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KL-Manila trade to get boost
Publication Date : 21-02-2014
With the peace agreement expected to be signed between the Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) next month, Kuala Lumpur and Manila can now concentrate on boosting economic activities in southern Philippines, hence increasing bilateral trade.
Officials said trade with the Philippines is lagging compared to other Asean countries.
“Just compare Malaysia’s trade with Indonesia, which reached US$18 billion annually. With the Philippines, total trade barely touched $4 billion,” said an official.
Another official said Malaysian investors were staying away from investing in Mindanao because of the troubles in the southern region.
“It is the least developed area in the Philippines and Malaysian companies have always wanted to invest in infrastructure projects and plantation because of the large tracts of land there. However, they are shying away because of troubles there. Maybe our investors will start investing there after this,” said the official.
Wisma Putra said in a statement that from January to November last year, total trade stood at $4.1 billion, with Malaysian exports amounting to $2.7 billion and imports of $1.3 billion.
Philippines President Benigno Aquino will be on a two-day state visit on February 27, his first to Malaysia since he became president in 2010.
He will have an audience with King of Malaysia Sultan Abdul Halim, who will also host a state banquet in his honour.
Aquino will also have a bilateral meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, during which the leaders will take stock of progress in on-going bilateral cooperation.
The Star reported that the Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro is expected to be signed by the Philippine government and the MILF in March with Malaysia the official witness at the ceremony.
Aquino told Philippines media that he would not raise the country’s claim on Sabah during his visit.
Malaysian officials said the Sabah issue would definitely be raised but mostly on the welfare of Filipinos who are on trial over the Lahad Datu intrusion. “The Government will update Aquino on the ongoing trial and give our assurance that consular access has been given to their people to comply with the Vienna Convention,” an official said.