Huge untapped potentials in Malaysia-Turkiye’s trade, investment

Malaysia is Turkiye’s largest trading partner in Asean with total trade of RM20.6b in 2022, a growth of 35% from 2021 

THERE is a huge untapped potential in trade and investment between Turkiye and Malaysia. 

Turkiye Ambassador to Malaysia Emir Salim Yuksel said Malaysia is Turkiye’s largest trading partner in Asean with total trade of US$4.7 billion (RM20.59 billion) in 2022, a growth of 35% from 2021. 

He said different sectors of Turkish and Malaysian economies interacted, operated and complemented each other, ranging from outer space to the construction business. 

“We have elevated our partnership last July from strategic partnership to compressive studies, which means that we have to deepen our relationships, every item and every subject,” he told Bernama at the sideline of the Turkish-Malaysian Trade Delegation Kuala Lumpur 2023 and Business-to-Business (B2B) Meetings event on March 13. 

Malaysia and Turkiye signed the Free Trade Agreement (MTFTA), which came into effect on Aug 1, 2015. 

The expansion of the MTFTA scope in September last year to include trade in services, investment and e-commerce was another milestone in Malaysia-Turkiye’s economic partnership. 

On sectors of focus, Yuksel said Malaysian industries should be paying more attention to the Turkish industries, especially food products, as well as a wide variety of different industrial productions, which could be of interest to the Malaysian industries due to its competitive prices. 

Meanwhile, in the opening speech, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s deputy secretary general (trade) Hairil Yahri Yaacob said Turkiye remained one of Malaysia’s important trading partners in the West Asian region. 

Different sectors of Turkish and Malaysian economies interact and complement each other, ranging from outer space to the construction business, says Yuksel (pic: Bernama)

In 2022, he said Turkiye was Malaysia’s third-largest trading partner, largest export destination and sixth-largest source of import among West Asian countries. 

He said Malaysia’s total exports to Turkiye in 2022 stood at RM17.39 billion, which largely comprised palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products; manufacturers of metal, textiles, apparel and footwear; electrical and electronic products; and palm oil-based manufactured products. 

Hairil Yahri said total imports in 2022 were recorded at RM2.86 billion, consisting of petroleum products, jewellery, iron and steel products, chemical and chemical products and textiles, apparel and footwear. 

“The strategic locations and trading linkages provided by our membership under a diverse set of free trade agreements, which have entered into force and are being implemented, make a strong case for Malaysia- Turkiye bilateral trade relations to be expanded beyond these sectors. 

“This solid foundation will undoubtedly further boost our bilateral economic partnership underpinned by our shared economic aspirations,” he said. 

Hairil Yahri said with MTFTA entering its maturity this year, it would be another boost for Malaysia-Turkiye trade relations with approximately 99% of Turkish exports entering Malaysia would receive duty-free treatment, while nearly 86% of Malaysian exports to Turkiye would enjoy a similar benefit under the MTFTA. 

“Such highly appealing preferential tariff rates must be capitalised on by the trading communities and taken advantage of.

“I am delighted to share that from the entry into force of the MTFTA in 2015 till 2022, the average annual growth rate of bilateral trade was 34%, indicating that there is still a lot of room for trading communities to leverage on MTFTA,” he said.

He said 2023 is expected to pose higher challenges for the global economy, particularly with signals of possible economic slow-down or recession among the world’s major economies. 

Hairil Yahri said Malaysia, as a trading nation, would continue to ensure trade and investment remained a key driver to sustain its growth trajectory, restore investors’ confidence to increase foreign direct investments and continue its commitment in the rules-based multilateral trading system despite the steep challenges. 

According to Hairil Yahri, a total of 4 projects with Turkish participation have been implemented in Malaysia with a total investment worth RM437m (pic: Bernama)

On the investment front, he said a total of four projects with Turkish participation have been implemented in Malaysia with a total investment worth RM436.9 million. 

“Turkish companies are welcome to expand their investments in Malaysia via partnerships for outsource contract manufacturing services, utilising partner’s facility as a distribution hub, maintenance, repair and overhaul centre within the region and localisation services in industries such as multimedia and creative content, as well as ICT services,” he said. 

Meanwhile, he said the increased usage of e-commerce to grow market access has led to more companies taking up the omnichannel marketing approach, which targeted a wider outreach of customers. 

He said Turkish companies could consider platforms such as Shopee and Lazada in Malaysia, while Malaysian companies could utilise Hepsiburada, a Turkish e-commerce company to market products directly to consumers. 

Hairil Yahri said the halal sector is also poised as a potential avenue for expanding the two countries’ trade relationship. 

He said Malaysia aspired to be the global halal hub and the country believed that it has nurtured the necessary halal ecosystem to achieve this goal. 

“Having said that, Turkish businesses are invited to take part in the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (Mihas), which will take place in Kuala Lumpur from Sept 12 to 15 this year. 

“I believe Mihas presents a golden opportunity for industry players and government leaders to collaborate on how to maximise the potential of this vibrant and growing sector of the global economy,” he added. — Bernama 

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition