19/10/2018 07:26 PM

By Samantha Tan

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 (Bernama) – Ukraine, an Eastern Europe country, is keen to share its expertise in aerospace and aircraft engineering with Malaysia, says Ukrainian Ambassador to Malaysia, Olexander Nechytaylo.

He said sharing expertise was not just providing education for students but also transferring technology to help Malaysia create the necessary level of competence and capabilities to develop the aerospace industry.

“Ukraine has good expertise in aerospace and aircraft engineering and we can help Malaysia develop its aerospace industry,” he told Bernama in an interview here recently.

Nechytaylo pointed out Ukraine had years of experience in aircraft engineering and one of the most notable persons was Igor Sikorsky, a Russian-American who invented the helicopter.

Sikorsky created the first successful helicopter in 1939 and was credited with many other outstanding accomplishments in the field of aircraft design.

Furthermore, the ambassador said the world's largest aircraft, Antonov An-225 Mriya in April this year landed at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, was an example of Ukraine leadership in aerospace and aircraft building.

Antonov An-225 Mriya landed here in its first commercial flight to Malaysia after undergoing upgrades for over a year. The gigantic Ukranian cargo plane landed in Malaysia twice in 2007 and 2016, as a commercial freight transporter.

Malaysia was the plane's third stop after Leipzig, Germany and Dammam, Saudi Arabia to deliver heavy cargo.

Besides that, Nechytaylo said other potential areas of collaboration between Ukraine and Malaysia were likely in education, cultural exchange, tourism as well as boosting trade relations.

“Tourism is another great potential. Last year, more than 13,000 Ukrainians visited Malaysia, which was about 1,000 tourists per month. It is a good number given that Ukraine is not close and has no direct flight. Now my task is to spark the interest of Malaysians to visit Ukraine,” he added.

The ambassador said his embassy was also in talks with some Malaysian travel and tour agencies and it was hopeful next year they could start tour packages to Ukraine.

“There was not much understanding where exactly Ukraine was located. Very often, people think, the country is near Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan. In fact, Ukraine is the geographical centre of Europe. The capital Kiev is an hour’s flight from Austria’s Vienna, three hours from London and two hours from Amsterdam. If on the Asian part, Kiev to Kazakhstan is a four-hour flight,” he explained.

Ukraine, with a coastline at the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, is bordered by Russia, Belarus, Poland and Slovakia, as well as Hungary, Romania and Moldova to the southwest.

On bilateral trade, Nechytaylo said it had been growing for the past two years and the potential was still there to expand with great efforts made this year to bring Ukrainian vegetables and fruits to the Malaysian market.

“Ukraine remains one of the major consumers of Malaysian palm oil. We are not full members of the European Union, so therefore, the European Commission directive on palm oil does not affect Ukraine. We remain committed to import this important commodity from Malaysia,” he said.

He pointed out that imported palm oil this year stood at more than 130,000 tonnes in the first eight months, an increase of over 10 per cent. It was the highest on record ever bought by Ukraine.

Nechytaylo said although efforts by Malaysian palm oil agencies to increase awareness to ensure sustainability and responsible development of the oil palm plantation were underway, negative perception had been there for years and was not easy to overcome.

However, he added, efforts to provide the right information to the public should be consistent.


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