The original report was published in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, July 16, 2011
‘We believe in a win-win scenario’
The UK and Malaysia enjoy a solid relationship in defence, trade and investment, among many other sectors
The visit to the UK by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak this month is aimed at building on a relationship that remains strong more than half a century since the former Federation of Malaya gained independence in 1957.
“We are really looking forward to further warming of relations,” says Zakaria Sulong, Malaysia’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom. “We can do a lot more in terms of promoting and enhancing trade and investment between the two countries. We are looking forward to more British investors coming to Malaysia.”
Further development of the relationship is regarded as mutually beneficial. Defence Secretary Liam Fox was in Kuala Lumpur in January to discuss defence and security issues, and Jeremy Browne, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, followed in April to sign a memorandum of understanding on immigration cooperation with his Malaysian counterpart, Hishammuddin Hussein.
Both the Duke of York and the Lord Mayor of London have also visited Malaysia this year, while many senior Malaysian cabinet ministers have visited the UK, as did Malaysia’s monarch and Supreme Head of State, Yang di Pertuan Agong, for the Royal Wedding.
The two countries enjoy wide ranging cultural and educational exchanges, and commercial ties are strong. The UK is one of Malaysia’s largest foreign investors, investing more than £12.5 billion in the country over the last 30 years. The British Government agency UK Trade and Investment has designated the country a High Growth Market.
British companies are involved in a wide range of industry sectors in Malaysia, including engineering, construction, automotive, oil and gas, energy, telecoms, IT, education, training, retail, hospitality, publishing, financial services, banking, insurance and corporate services. Among the best known names present in the country are: Royal Bank of Scotland, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, Rolls-Royce, BP and Shell.
UK exports in goods to Malaysia totalled £1 billion last year, which makes Malaysia the UK’s second largest export market in Southeast Asia, after Singapore. UK exports in services to Malaysia in 2009 amounted to £397 million.
Mr Zakaria says investment is welcome across the Malaysian economy, and particularly in the service industries. “Apart from manufacturing we are big with primary commodities: palm oil, timber and we used to be the biggest producer of rubber. Now, we are moving toward science, technology and research,” he says. “There are other areas that can be looked into such as biotech and ICT. We need to look not just at industry but services; service investment is equally important. We have to invest in this.”
Investment is two-way, he points out, with many Malaysians investing in the UK, in water treatment, banking, and property. “We believe in a win-win scenario,” says the High Commissioner.
Simon Featherstone, British High Commissioner to Malaysia, believes the two countries are set to forge even closer ties. “The potential for the relationship is huge,” he says.
Southeastern Asia, peninsula bordering Thailand and northern one-third of the island of Borneo, bordering Indonesia, Brunei, and the South China Sea, south of Vietnam
total: 329,847 sq km
country comparison to the world: 67
land: 328,657 sq km
water: 1,190 sq km
AREA - comparative:
slightly larger than New Mexico
tropical; annual southwest (April to October) and northeast (October to February) monsoons
tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite
GEOGRAPHY - note:
strategic location along Strait of Malacca and southern South China Sea
Muslim (or Islam - official) 60.4%, Buddhist 19.2%, Christian 9.1%, Hindu 6.3%, Confucianism, Taoism, other traditional Chinese religions 2.6%, other or unknown 1.5%, none 0.8% (2000 census)
Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai
note: in East Malaysia there are several indigenous languages; most widely spoken are Iban and Kadazan
28,728,607 (July 2011 est.)
country comparison to the world: 43
name: Kuala Lumpur
31 August 1957 (from the UK)
AGRICULTURE - products:
Peninsular Malaysia - rubber, palm oil, cocoa, rice; Sabah - subsistence crops, coconuts, rice; rubber, timber; Sarawak - rubber, timber; pepper
Peninsular Malaysia - rubber and oil palm processing and manufacturing, light manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, electronics, tin mining and smelting, logging, timber processing; Sabah - logging, petroleum production; Sarawak - agriculture processing, petroleum production and refining, logging
$210.3 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 23
$163.2 billion (2009 est.)
$156.6 billion (2010 est.)
country comparison to the world: 28
$117.4 billion (2009 est.)