Malaysia sees Central Asian countries as a new axis of growth

PUTRAJAYA (June 30): Central Asian countries have the potential to be the new axis of growth for Malaysia, offering huge opportunities for enhanced collaborations in existing and new areas that could bring mutual benefits for the country and the region, Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar said.

Kamarudin said this year marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the five Central Asian countries, adding that the region – with a combined population of 76 million people and an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of 1 $.02 billion – presents a window of opportunity for Malaysia.

The five Central Asian countries are Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

“While taking stock of the past 30 years, it is only natural for us to consider the state of our relationship today and for the next 30 years to come,” he said in his speech. opening during “30 Years of Diplomatic Relations: Symposium on Malaysia and Central Asian Countries – The New Axis of Growth” at Wisma Putra here on Thursday (June 30).

The Deputy Minister said that as a region, Central Asia has long been linked to the Silk Road trade routes, serving as a crossroads for people, goods and ideas traveling from Europe to the East, adding that as a trading nation, Malaysia sees potential in the region.

He also said that Malaysia was among the first to establish diplomatic relations with all Central Asian nations after their independence in the 1990s and that since then relations have grown stronger in areas such as energy, trade and investment, education and capacity building. , and tourism and culture.

“The Malays could easily associate with the region; famous names like Imam al Bukhari and Imam al Tarmizi are familiar characters to Malaysians,” he added.

Kamarudin said Malaysia had strong economic ties with the region, especially in the oil and gas sector, with the country contributing to human resource development and capacity building in the region mainly through the Malaysian technical cooperation program since the first days of the countries independence.

He also highlighted four areas of strategic importance for enhanced collaboration between Malaysia and Central Asia in the areas of connectivity, trade and investment, education and tourism.

“Malaysia could benefit from the issue of connectivity with the Central Asian region. The region is one of the least connected economies in the world, with the region’s connectivity indicator averaging less than 60% in terms of access to global GDP ratio – the lowest on the spectrum.

“Beyond the oil and gas sector as well as the capacity building program, Malaysia could play our role here by offering our expertise and experience in good governance, Islamic financial system and macro construction planning. of the nation,” he said, adding that the two sides could also cooperate in cultural diplomacy, as they have affinities towards each other.

The symposium, which was attended by five heads of mission from Central Asian countries in Malaysia as panelists, focused on prospects for economic integration and regional cooperation between Malaysia and the region.

As the five countries are small, landlocked economies, long-term economic growth and political stability are prerequisites for successful economic integration to further strengthen the close collaboration between Malaysia and the Central Asian region.

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