KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 — Malaysia has seen a 25 per cent increase in bilateral trade with Canada since 2018, bolstered by the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which came into force for Malaysia in November 2022.

In the past 15 months, there has been encouraging uptake of the issuance of the Certificate of Origin (CO) by Malaysian businesses for exports to CPTPP partners, including Canada.

Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said that although Malaysia’s overall trade with Canada dipped in 2023 compared to 2022, “this year’s projections look brighter with the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) forecast of 3.3 per cent in merchandise trade growth for 2024,” he said in his keynote address at the launch of The Team Canada Trade Mission (TCTM) here today.

The minister said Malaysia is proud to host Canadian companies like Celestica, Sun Life and other companies that have been thriving here for more than a decade.

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“As of today, a total of 96 manufacturing projects with Canadian participation have been implemented, with total investments worth US$274 million.

“The top three sectors for Canadian investments are electrical and electronics (E&E), basic metal products, as well as wood and wood products. These projects have generated employment for 11,027 people,” he added.

Tengku Zafrul said the TCTM today “is a platform to up the Malaysia-Canada game on both trade and investment.”

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He highlighted three compelling reasons for TCTM members to consider coming here, including the country’s clear industrial development and reform policies which will drive Malaysia’s future exports; “our disciplined execution and respect for the rule of law”; and common enabling trade platforms for both countries such as the CPTPP, APEC and the upcoming Asean-Canada FTA (ACaFTA).

“We warmly welcome Canadian investors to collaborate with us in sectors such as semiconductor (IC design and wafer fabrication); speciality chemicals; advanced materials; aerospace; pharmaceuticals; and medical devices,” he said.

Additionally, he said via the Push for Net Zero and sustainability agenda, Malaysia’s New Industrial Master Plan (NIMP) 2030 also targets for high growth sectors such as electric vehicles (EVs), renewable energy (RE), Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS), green manufacturing and circular economy, which are very much aligned with the TCTM’s objectives

“On getting our industries — particularly our SMEs — to embrace ESG principles, we launched the National Environmental, Social and Governance Industry Framework (or i-ESG) for the manufacturing sector in September last year.

“On that score, our existing and potential Canadian partners are very much welcome to offer their expertise to help build the ESG capacity of our SMEs,” he added.

Tengku Zafrul noted that disciplined execution on investments saw “quite a few” manufacturing projects take off earlier than the typical 18 to 24-month timeline.

“In the past year alone, due to our disciplined execution, there were quite a few projects that were successfully implemented in a shorter period of less than 18 months, some within 12 months. These include Enovix; Ferrotec Manufacturing; and Ultra Clean Technology.

“Whichever sector you are looking at in terms of investment or trade, you can count on our strong, disciplined execution, as well as rule of law, should you consider making Malaysia your regional trade or investment hub,” he said.

On the common free trade agreements that both countries have signed, including CPTPP, Tengku Zafrul welcomed Canada’s chairmanship of the CPTPP Commission for 2024, and reiterated Malaysia’s support to the priorities outlined by Canada in 2024, including its stewardship in leading the General Review of the CPTPP, and enhancing utilisation of the CPTPP by SMEs, women and indigenous businesses.

“Beyond CPTPP, we are also optimistic about additional trade potential via the Asean-Canada Free Trade Agreement (ACaFTA), of which Malaysia is also a party and coordinating country. Malaysia looks forward to ensuring the success of the ACaFTA when Malaysia takes over Asean’s chairmanship in 2025,” Tengku Zafrul said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Export Promotion, International Trade and Economic Development of Canada Mary Ng describes TCTM as a platform to create opportunities to strengthen trade and investment ties between the two countries.

As part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy which deepens and diversifies Canada’s partnerships, she said Malaysia will enhance Canada’s trade, investment and supply chain resilience.

“This is the fastest growing part of the world. And for us to be here with Malaysia is a very important part of the work that Canada is doing. And Malaysia, with your resilient economic fundamentals, growing the middle class, your talent pool, infrastructure support, is such an attractive regional hub for Canadian companies and investors,” she added. — Bernama