PUTRAJAYA, Feb 11 — Malaysia and the UK are exploring non-traditional areas to enhance the long-standing bilateral relations enjoyed by the two countries including in the areas of government reforms, fighting corruption and tackling human rights, said Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.
In a joint press conference with visiting British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, the minister said Malaysia was also looking forward to seeing more people-to-people cooperation and interparliamentary relations.
Throughout the years, bilateral relations have broadened to include trade and investment, defence, oil and gas, training, education, culture, green technology, renewable energy and tourism; but with a new administration on board in Putrajaya, there’s a new dimension to the relations.
This could go beyond the traditional areas, he said after a one-hour meeting with Raab at Wisma Putra, here, today.
Raab is in Malaysia as part of his first Asia-Pacific trip to promote the United Kingdom (UK) as open for business and a world leader in climate change action ahead of the 2020 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26).
Saifuddin said Malaysia has always valued the UK as an important dialogue partner, a close trade and economic friend as well as a source of important investment.
“Malaysia always welcomes and encourages more UK investors to take advantage of the investment potential in Malaysia. We also encourage investors to leverage on Malaysia as a gateway to the wider Asean region,” he said.
Malaysia has also taken note of the UK’s intention to be a Dialogue Partner to Asean (Association of South-east Asian Nations) following its exit from the European Union, and hopes that the UK will submit its formal application to the Asean Secretariat to manifest its intention, Saifuddin said.
He also expressed hope that the UK would increase its palm oil import from Malaysia in line with the latter’s continuous commitment towards the full implementation of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification by 2020 and other international regulations and standards.
Meanwhile, Raab said their discussions today also touched on the UK’s ability to support Malaysia’s ambitions in the areas of education reform, sustainable growth and climate change.
“(The) whole area of sustainable growth is something which is very exciting because both countries face these challenges of global climate change, but also we have the innovation and technology and the entrepreneurs to come out with some of the solutions for that,” he said.
On the possibility of a Malaysia-UK free trade agreement, Raab said the UK was also in talks with Malaysia on the prospect of engaging in fair trade through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), of which Malaysia is a signatory.
He said the UK will also continue to work with Malaysia to stop illegal shipments of plastic waste from the UK and work proactively with Malaysia to promote biodiversity and prevent deforestation.
“I have also made clear our support for Malaysia’s efforts to clean up the oceans by reducing plastic use and marine debris,” Raab added.
Saifuddin and Raab also discussed matters related to trade and investments, the rule of law, the plight of the Rohingyas, the South China Sea, and the COP26. — Bernama