The flourishing trade between India and Malaysia is “on target” to reach US$11bil (RM34.87bil) by the year-end.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said that the overall trend indicators were encouraging despite the challenging external environment.
“Given our current trade performance, I believe our trade this year will top the US$10bil mark, matching the Malaysia-India pre-crisis trade peak set in 2008,” he said in his keynote address at the India-Malaysia Trade and Investment Forum.
He also said the bilateral trade could exceed the US$15bil (RM47.55bil) target set by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh.
“Given the growth of both the Indian and Malaysian economies, as well as the growing middle class and lowering of tariffs, I think we can certainly exceed US$15bil by 2015,” he told reporters.
Bilateral trade between Malaysia and India increased 35% to US$9.4bil (RM29.8bil) in the first nine months this year versus a year earlier.
Mustapa said currently, investments from India were mainly in the manufacture of pulp and paper and textile, adding that he expected more investments from India's small and medium enterprises and the auto components sector.
He said so far Indian firms had invested a total US$1.1bil in 106 projects in the manufacturing sector, while Malaysians' investments in India amounted to US$2.8bil.
Following the Malaysia-India comprehensive economic cooperation agreement in July, Mustapa said, Malaysia would see “greater movement of expertise between the two countries in areas such as education, training, telecommunications, transport, construction and environmental services” in the future.
Mustapa pointed out that there would be much to gain in both countries' services industries as the Malaysian Government had opened up 17 services sub-sectors to foreign participation.
Panabaka Lakshmi(left), Minister of state (Textiles) Government of India and Dato Sri Mustapa Mohammed, Minister of International Trade and Industry).
“This will enable foreigners to own up to 100% of businesses in telecommunications, courier services, private higher education, international schools, private hospitals services, department stores, accounting and taxation services, and legal services. I am sure these areas are of interest to India's services industry,” he said.
He said Malaysia was an ideal gateway for India into the Asean region and the world thereon.