By P PREM KUMAR / Pic AFP
China will import more Malaysian products, particularly palm oil and palm oil-based products, that would meet the demand of its 1.4 billion population.
In giving the assurance, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said both Malaysia and China have mutually agreed to increase bilateral trade, especially Malaysia’s exports, to address the vast trade gap.
Apart from Malaysian palm oil, he said China is also interested in other agricultural goods from Malaysia.
“China and Malaysia have agreed to increase our trade volumes. We will import more Malaysian products that meet the demands of the Chinese (people),” he said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing yesterday.
Dr Mahathir is on a five-day working visit to the republic beginning last Friday, on the invitation of Li.
Li also stressed that Malaysia and China’s friendly long-term diplomatic ties are “far more important than the current problems” between the two nations.
He said China’s intention is to maintain a warm diplomatic relationship with Malaysia, moving forward.
Li said there is a common belief between the two governments, which is to work out a win-win diplomatic relationship that would benefit the countries and their people.
“We wish to affirm a friendly relationship with Malaysia. There would be mutual benefits in doing so,” the Chinese premier said.
Earlier, the two leaders held a closed door meeting to discuss issues concerning both nations and the region.
Dr Mahathir said Malaysia has much to gain from China and believes that investments from the world’s second- largest economy could resolve the unemployment problem in the country.
The PM hopes that Malaysia will become a hub for new technology being developed in China.
“So, there is much to be gained by strengthening the relationship between the two nations,” he added.
He also said Malaysia wants to promote a fair trade, in a free trading world.
“Malaysia supports free trade, but it must also be fair trade. Malaysia will not support any form of colonisation under the name of trade.”
Dr Mahathir also asked Li and the Chinese government to be more sympathetic with regard to Malaysia’s current fiscal issues. He added that Malaysia is hopeful that China would understand the situation and would be able to help.
“We hope that China understands our problem and would be sympathetic in regards to our internal fiscal problems.
“Help us to resolve some of our fiscal problems,” Dr Mahathir said.
The new government under Pakatan Harapan is said to be facing an overall debt of over RM1 trillion due to the alleged mismanagement of the country’s finances by the previous administration.
Meanwhile, some five memoranda of understanding (MoUs) were signed after the official dialogue at the Great Hall of the People yesterday.
Among them, the Ministry of Agriculture inked an MoU with China’s Administration of Customs on the protocol of inspection and quarantine requirements for the export of frozen durian from Malaysia to China.
Malaysian Palm Oil Board DG Datuk Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din signed an MoU on technology development and promotion of Malaysian palm biofuel in China.
The Malaysian Rubber Board inked an MoU on collaboration in the areas of rubberised bitumen road technology and rubber tapping automation and mechanisation.
Bank Negara Malaysia governor Datuk Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus signed the extension and amendment agreement regarding the Chinese yuan/Malaysian ringgit bilateral currency swap arrangement between the two countries.
Lastly, the Securities Commission Malaysia inked an MoU on accounting and audit cross-border regulatory cooperation.
Both Dr Mahathir and premier Li witnessed the signing and exchange of documents for the MoUs.