20/05/2024 08:29 AM

From Kamarul Ariffin Md Yassin

TASHKENT, May 20 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's visit to Uzbekistan from May 17 until 19 is seen as an opportunity for business entities in Malaysia to expand their business and to penetrate the Uzbekistan market, and even to explore the bigger Central Asian market.

Anwar's discussion with Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on the first day of the visit last Friday focused more on trade between the two countries, and both leaders want the trade volume to be increased.

To achieve that, both leaders expressed their support for activating the work of the intergovernmental Joint Committee on Trade and transform the committee into the Intergovernmental Joint Commission.

Malaysia and Uzbekistan will continue mutual visits of representatives of business circles as well as participating in exhibitions and fairs held in the two countries.

Both sides also will organise regular and effective bilateral business engagements not only in the mainstream goods and services sector, but also in tourism, healthcare opportunities and other areas of mutual benefit.

Both leaders acknowledged a notable uplift in the volume of mutual trade in goods and services between the two countries over the past seven years as well as the need to identify untapped opportunities, and expressed their readiness to further expand them in the years ahead.

During the joint press conference, both Anwar and Mirziyoyev stressed the importance of trade between the countries should be elevated.

During the visit, Anwar several times said cooperation between Malaysia and Uzbekistan should focus more on trade.

The Uzbekistan-Malaysia High Level Business Forum at the Samarkand Silk Road Complex in Samarkand on Saturday, which was attended by Anwar and Uzbekistan’s Deputy Prime Minister Jamshid Khodjaev, received an exceptionally strong reception from Malaysian and Uzbek companies.

About 200 companies attended including major companies owned either by the government or the private sector.

Among the participants were Uzbek companies with annual revenue exceeding RM1 billion, such as Eriell Group, Korzinka, Orient Group, Murad Buildings and Asklepiy Group, as well as those from Malaysia such as Petronas, the Employees Provident Fund, Khazanah Nasional, Proton, Sunway Group and Sime Darby.

It is estimated that trade commitments worth RM710 million were achieved at the forum.

Anwar told the Malaysian media that efforts to assist small and medium-sized Malaysian companies in expanding their overseas market penetration must be enhanced to put them in a more favourable position

He believed it is vital to assist these companies in developing a strong network with their overseas counterparts to market their products and this is important in terms of lifting the position of the small and medium-sized companies.

In 2023, Malaysia recorded bilateral trade with Uzbekistan totalling US$94.03 million (RM451.1 million), with exports to the Central Asian country amounting to US$93.6 million (RM449 million) and imports worth US$414,518 (RM1.99 million).

The efforts to have more Malaysian companies venture into the Uzbekistan market seemed aligned with the Investment, Trade and Industry Ministry’s policy to diversify trade efforts by focusing on non-traditional trading partners to address the challenges in the era of globalisation.

With geopolitical challenges reducing global trade, the ministry is focusing on countries such as those in Africa, South America and West Asia.

For Malaysia, as trade with the world’s biggest countries fell last year but trade with West Asian, African and South American countries increased, it is high time for the country to have a new plan and not only focusing on its largest trading partners like China and the United States.

The Prime Minister’s visit also will create the opportunities for successful cooperation in various sectors of the economy with discussions on possible joint projects in energy, including renewable energy sources, chemistry, electronics and electrical engineering, pharmaceutical and textile, mining and metallurgical industries, agricultural products processing and food industry, engineering and construction.

Both Anwar and Mirziyoyev also supported the proposal on establishing an Uzbekistan-Malaysia industrial zone in Uzbekistan encompassing safe routes for the goods as well as looking into the legal framework of cooperation in the protection of both country’s businessmen.

Malaysia and Uzbekistan have agreed to explore opportunities for cooperation in the petrochemicals sector and green energy solutions, with the Uzbek side expressing a keen interest in collaborating with Petronas, particularly through the methanol-to-olefins (MTO) and derivatives project, as well as in the green hydrogen and associated derivates production, including green ammonia.

With all these good news from Uzbekistan, it’s up to the relevant ministries and agencies as well as companies to carry out their missions to the best of their abilities and to take advantage of the opportunities available for the benefit all Malaysians.

Uzbekistan is Anwar’s last stop of his official visit to three Central Asian countries from May 14 until 19. Prior to this, the Prime Minister was in the Kyrgyz Republic and Kazakhstan.


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