K.S. Ramkumar, Arab News Staff
Monday 8 December 2003
Last Update 8 December 2003 12:00 am
JEDDAH, 8 December 2003 — Malaysian Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz wants Islamic countries to forge stronger trade ties.
“Bodies like the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) should reflect on bilateral and multilateral economic and trade issues in addition to their main agenda,” she said yesterday.
Aziz was speaking to reporters after she and Abdullah ibn Abdulrahman Al-Hamoudi, deputy commerce minister, jointly opened the Caravan Malaysia 2003 expo as part of Saudi Arabia’s five-day International Trade Fair (SAITF).
Rafidah said 200 Malaysian companies participating in the show were keen on exploring joint venture manufacturing projects in the Kingdom, in addition to looking for new agents and distributors for products and services.
“The expo is meant to create more interest and business in each other’s countries,” said Aziz, who has been a minister for a record 23 years — over 16 years in her present position.
“Although trade between the two countries has been on the increase, Malaysia accounts for only one percent of the Kingdom’s global imports. Plenty of opportunities exist to further expand the volume and range of products and services traded bilaterally,” she said.
“There has been an upward swing in the bilateral trade this year after a brief decline in 2002 due to a global economic slowdown. For the period January-October 2003, the total bilateral trade increased by 15.8 percent to reach $764.7 million compared to the corresponding period in 2002,” Rafidah added.
The Caravan Malaysia, which earlier toured Bahrain and will next proceed to the UAE, occupies 3,000 sq. m. of the SAITF space.
She said the two countries laid the foundation for the promotion of two-way investment and trade and commercial activities by signing a whole series of agreements. They include an investment guarantee agreement in 2000, avoidance of double taxation agreement in 1993, cultural and scientific cooperation agreement in 1976, economic and technical cooperation agreement in 1975 and air services agreement in 1974.