KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — China and Singapore will “always” remain key trade partners to Malaysia despite some differences in views, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told international investors here.
This was the latest assurance Putrajaya gave to convince the two countries that the ongoing talks over several international disputes will not dampen economic ties.
China and Singapore are among Malaysia’s biggest export markets.
“We may have differences of views — as with Singapore and China — but let me tell you we see them as close partners,” Dr Mahathir said in his keynote address at the Invest Malaysia 2019 conference here.
“They are our top two key trading and investment partners,” he added.
Putrajaya is currently negotiating terms for a new water supply deal with Singapore.
The water issue has been a thorny issue between both governments since Dr Mahathir’s first tenure as prime minister.
More recently, Malaysia and Singapore locked horns over their maritime and airspace borders.
Meanwhile Putrajaya’s initial decision to cancel several Chinese-funded large-scale infrastructure projects, like the RM80 billion East Coast Rail Link, was said to have upset Beijing.
Dr Mahathir eventually changed his mind and said the ECRL would continue if the developers agree to reduce the cost.
Talks over the new terms are still ongoing, with Putrajaya saying it expects to close the deal by mid-year.
Today, the prime minister told investors that Malaysia remains committed to trade with all key partners, particularly nations with “close and strongest links”.
“We wish to reiterate that Malaysia is committed to friendly economic ties,” he said.