Malaysia, Philippines to see upswing in economic ties after historical peace agreement
By RAZAK AHMAD
MANILA: Malaysia wants to see an upswing in economic ties with the Philippines due to the closer cooperation between the two countries demonstrated recently by the signing of the landmark Southern Philippines framework peace agreement.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told members of the Malaysia-Philippines Business Council that business should take the lead in increasing two-way trade and investment, which needs to be improved. “Economic ties between the two countries to my mind has somewhat underachieved and I think its potential has not been fully realised.
“It is therefore incumbent upon us to address this especially since our two governments are now working closely together and as I have a quite personal relationship with the Philippine President,” Najib said during a breakfast meeting with the Malaysia-Philippine Business Council here on Tuesday.
Also present were Philippine Secretary of the Department of Trade and Industry Gregory Domingo, Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and Datuk Azmil Khalid, protem chairman of the Malaysia-Philippines business Council.
The Prime Minister said the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) needed to be developed further with fresh impetus following the signing of Monday's framework peace agreement.
ASEAN's aim to achieve regional economic integration in 2015 would also provide many opportunities for businesses in Malaysia and Philippines to increase bilateral trade, which fell by about 22% in last year compared to 2010, said Najib.
The Prime Minister said he hoped more Philippine companies would invest in Malaysia as the investment ratio between the two countries currently stood at 3:1, with Malaysian companies investing three times more in the Philippines compared to the other way around.
“We want businesses to make their own decisions while we the Government serve as the facilitator, just like our facilitator for the Bangsamoro deal, an honest broker,” said Najib.
Najib said he was upbeat about the economic prospects in both countries with the Philippine economy projected to grow between 6 to 6.5% this year while Malaysia has now become the third largest global centre for initial public offerings (IPO) after the US and China.