Malaysia-Egypt Form Working Groups To Address Private Sector’s Concern

From Jeffri Mohd Rafiee

CAIRO, Oct 8 (Bernama) — Malaysia and Egypt have formed specific
working groups to discuss and address issues of concern to the private
sector of both countries, including halal standards, conformity
assessment activities, SME collaboration and trademarks.

This was to ensure substantial outcomes from the formation of the
Malaysia-Egypt Joint Trade and Investment Committee (JTIC), said the
Malaysian International Trade and Industry in a statement.

“These technical groups are expected to begin work within three
months and will incorporate members from the Joint Business Council,”
it said.

Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa
Mohamed and his Egyptian counterpart, Rachid Mohamed Rachid, co-chaired
the first JTIC meeting and thereafter inaugurated the establishment of
the Joint Business Council here on Wednesday.

“Malaysia-Egypt relationship was traditionally based on culture, education and diplomacy.

“It is now time for us to take this relationship further and into
new areas of trade and investment,” Mustapa said in the statement.

He added that given Malaysia’s expertise and experience, Malaysia could contribute towards Egypt’s development plans.

These include infrastructure development, ICT and R&D in biotechnology.

“The inaugural JTIC meeting discussed and reached an understanding
on various bilateral trade and investment issues and cooperation
programmes,” the statement said.

Mustapa also took the opportunity to raise concerns, including
that of standards and trademarks, faced by some members of the
Malaysian private sector.

The JTIC, which provides the mechanism for discussing areas of
further economic collaboration, complemented the Trade Agreement and
the Investment Guarantee Agreement which both countries signed in Cairo
on Jan 8, 1977 and Kuala Lumpur on April 14, 1997, respectively.

In the meeting, both ministers reported on recent economic
developments in their respective countries and reviewed the progress in
trade and economic relations between Egypt and Malaysia.

Malaysia’s statistics indicate that bilateral trade between
Malaysia and Egypt continued to improve in 2008, increasing by more
than three-fold to RM2,748.1 million, from RM831.6 million in 2001.

The ministers noted that the present volume of trade between Malaysia and Egypt is small.

They agreed that both countries have yet to realise the potential
that each can offer and could explore complementarities for trade and
investment expansion through the JTIC.

To date, investment crossflows between both countries is limited.
As at December 2008, investments from Egypt amounted to RM20.8 billion
(US$5.83 billion) in wood and wood products, machinery and equipment
for oil and gas industry and, souvenirs and giftware.

Malaysian investments in Egypt is in the oil and gas related
industry, palm oil, distribution of automotive and autoparts, as well
as smart card technology.

The ministers were pleased to note the establishment of the local
chapters of the Business Council, which is timely and opportune, and
expressed confidence that the council will encourage more active
participation of its members in trade and investment activities.