ABU DHABI: Malaysia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) — comprising six member countries namely the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Oman and Bahrain — has signed the ‘Malaysia-GCC Framework Agreement on Economic, Commercial, Investment and Technical Cooperation’.
The agreement would reflect enhanced economic relations between the nation and the Gulf countries, being a precursor to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two parties.
Signing on behalf of the Malaysian government was Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, while GCC was represented by Minister of Economy of the UAE, Sultan Saeed Al-Mansoori and GCC’s Secretary General, Abdul Rahman Hamad Al-Attiyah.
Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak together with the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Sheikh Mohammed Zayed Al Nahyan witnessed the signing ceremony.
The framework agreement would encompass several provisions to develop economic, commercial, investment and technical cooperations between Malaysia and the GCC
for the benefits of both parties.
“I am happy to note that this agreement will form the basis for a more structured economic engagement between the GCC and Malaysia. This includes expanding trade exchanges and information on foreign trade, encouraging business communications particularly between trade and investment institutions and organisations of both the GCC and Malaysia, as well as facilitating training and technology transfer,” said Mustapa.
A feasibility study conducted by Malaysian-based UKM Pakarunding suggested that trade between Malaysia and the GCC could expand by 41 per cent once the bilateral FTA between the two parties would materialise. Among products of export interest would be vegetable oils, wood products, machinery and equipment, chemical products, rubber and plastic products as well as electronic equipment.
Malaysia’s total trade with the GCC in 2008 grew by 39.8 per cent from US$8.8 billion (RM28.4 billion) in 2007 to US$12.3 billion (RM39.7 billion) in 2008. Nevertheless, bilateral trade between Malaysia and the GCC for 2009 dropped to 31.7 per cent which amounted to US$8.4 billion (RM27.2 billion) — an impact from the economic downturn.
For the January-November period last year, Malaysia’s total trade with the GCC increased 25.6 per cent to US$9.8 billion (RM30.2 billion) compared with US$7.8 billion (RM25.2 billion) in the same corresponding period in 2009 – with exports of US$5 billion (RM15.4 billion) and imports of US$4.8 billion (RM14.8 billion).
As at December last year, Malaysian construction companies were involved in projects amounting to US$10.6 billion (RM34.1 billion) in the GCC. Investment opportunities for Malaysian companies in the GCC would include Islamic financing, construction, tourism, healthcare, education, petrochemical as well as oil and gas.