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By Mikhail Raj Abdullah
KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 -- In what is seen as a major breakthrough for Malaysia, Saudi Arabia will become Malaysia’s hub for the import and distribution of palm oil and palm oil related products into the lucrative Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Middle East and North African (MENA) markets.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali said the oil-rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia would also increase the import of palm oil and related products from Malaysia.
Malaysia would also look into the setting up of palm oil refinery and processing plants in the region, he wrote in his twitter account, highlighting the highly-successful outcome of his trade and investment mission to Saudi Arabia.
Mohamed Azmin, who is also Senior Minister, said the Malaysian delegation he led also had productive meetings with the Savola Group, one of the leading strategic investment holding companies in MENA, with a portfolio of leading brands in the food and retail sectors.
“We also discussed the vast potentials that could be tapped into by expanding Malaysia's fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) exports to Panda, the Kingdom’s largest retail chain,” he added.
Going forward, he said that the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (MATRADE) plans to organise visits by the Savola Group to Malaysia, tentatively during the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) this year.
The mission is part of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry's (MITI) continuous efforts to promote business opportunities and strategic partnerships between Malaysia and the West Asian region.
The mission is aimed at keeping the momentum of economic relations between Malaysia and both countries, following the official visit of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March.
Mohamed Azmin said that “in our efforts to further strengthen bilateral trade ties, MATRADE coordinated a meeting with Makkah Healthcare Cluster (MHC), a world-class healthcare hub and a reference point for sustainable healthcare in the kingdom.”
The Makkah Healthcare Oncology Institute as well as nursing schools in Makkah also plan to work with Malaysian suppliers of medical products and services for its hospitals.
“With COVID-19 still hovering over humanity like death eaters, I strongly believe that our healthcare providers should seize these opportunities for win-win outcomes,” said Mohamed Azmin, who would also visit the UAE as part of the mission.
Mohamed Azmin, who also had a fruitful bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance and Acting Minister of Economy and Planning, Mohammed al-Jadaan, said he reaffirmed the special and unique relationship between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, amplified by the recent visit by the Malaysian Prime Minister to the Kingdom.
“I reiterated the importance of strengthening this partnership and broached further the possibility of the government-linked companies (GLCs) in both countries to support enhancing the investment cross-flows in furtherance of our respective national development goals, focusing on new growth areas.”
In efforts to tap into the regional market, Mohamed Azmin said he stressed the strategic gains for Saudi Arabia to leverage on Malaysia’s participation in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, paving the way for Saudi businesses to explore and exploit the world’s largest Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“I also shared Malaysia’s latest National Investment Aspirations, a holistic reform of our investment agenda, with high technology and innovation at the forefront, focusing on striking a balance between economic and environmental sustainability, in line with the Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance (ESG) benchmarks.
“On this note, we touched on climate change and how we could contribute towards capturing, reusing, and removing carbon footprint globally.”
Among other things, “both countries are committed to reducing carbon emissions by focusing on renewable energy including solar power and future industries,” he said.