KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Malaysia will continue to diversify and reduce its reliance on major trading partners in order to cushion shocks due to geopolitical tensions, said Investment, Trade, and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

He said that while China’s economic recovery has benefited the nation through the improvement of trade figures, the ministry will continue to work to lessen its reliance on a single economy.

For context, China’s economy grew faster than expected in the first three months of the year, with gross domestic product growing by 5.3 per cent in the first quarter (1Q), while Malaysia’s trade performance for January-March 2024 registered 7.1 per cent year-on-year growth to RM690.59 billion.

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“We need to slowly diversify our dependency on key markets so that we can cushion any shock to the big trading partners that we have because of geopolitics, And at the same time, we need to diversify our export products,” he said during the question and answer session following the presentation of the Investment, Trade, and Industry Ministry’s (Miti) 1Q report card here today.

To a question on Miti’s aggressive mission in the Middle East amid the current geopolitical tensions, he explained that the ministry, through its agency the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, has spearheaded missions to Arab Health 2024 and Gulfood 2024.

“We will also host the first Malaysia International Halal Showcase (Mihas) outside Malaysia, which will take place in Dubai in November this year; therefore, we need to be prepared,” he said.

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Commenting on commodity prices and geopolitical tensions, Tengku Zafrul said the ongoing conflicts have had an impact on commodity prices, and the decline in commodity prices has influenced global commerce since last year.

“Hopefully, China’s economic growth will help to cushion the decrease in commodity prices, and I would like to underline the need for diversifying trade.

“Not only that, everyone is searching for more trading partners to diversify their risks, and we, too, should embrace this chance to encourage as many companies to come here, which would subsequently increase trade,” he said.

Last Friday, the Statistics Department announced that Malaysia’s exports recorded a decline in March 2024 due to a RM1.7 billion decrease in palm oil and palm-based agriculture products, petroleum products (-RM1.2 billion), electrical and electronic products (-RM770.1 million), and palm oil-based manufactured products (-RM449.1 million). — Bernama