（Written by Huang Yunyun / Translated by Zhang Xiaoyan）The Malaysia Pavilion of the 17th China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) was bustling, with white coffee, durian, bird’s nest and other special products on display attracting many visitors. The arrival of H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, Malaysian Ambassador to China, made the exhibition hall more exciting. He took a group interview with the media and answered questions about the trade prospects between China and Malaysia, the future trend of bilateral relations, and CAEXPO.
RCEP will increase bilateral trade of China and Malaysia
China and Malaysia, a couple of old friends, have jointly created brilliant achievements in bilateral trade. According to H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidin, before the establishment of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area (CAFTA), China was Malaysia’s largest trading partner, and since the operation of CAFTA, China has stayed at the same position in the 10 years.
In 2019, the bilateral trade volume between China and Malaysia reached a record high of US$ 124 billion (about RMB 816.3 billion yuan). Despite the slowed growth of bilateral trade in the first 10 months of 2020 due to the COVID-19, H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidinis is still optimistic about its prospects.
On November 15, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) was officially signed, which marks the birth of a free trade zone with the largest population, the most diversified membership structure and the largest development potential in the world. “I believe that RCEP will greatly promote Malaysia’s trade with other member states,” said H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidin. In his view, the reason lies in the following points: First is the tariff reduction. On the whole, the number of zero tariff products under RCEP’s trade in goods is more than 90%, and the opening level of trade in services is also significantly higher than the existing “10 + 1” free trade agreement. This will greatly promote the flow of trade in goods and services in the region.
Second is the transparent investment rules. All the 15 parties of RCEP adopt the negative list method to make commitments of high-level opening to investments in the five non-service sectors, namely, manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, fishery and mining, which will greatly improve the transparency of policies of all parties.
Third is the support provided to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). RCEP has specially set up two chapters on SMEs and economic and technological cooperation. Among them, SME chapter encourages them to make more active use of the free trade agreements and the economic cooperation projects created by the same, and to integrate themselves into regional value streams and supply chains better and faster. The chapter on economic and technical cooperation stipulates that all parties will cooperate in the implementation of technical assistance and capacity-building projects, especially to meet the development needs of the least developed members and to constantly narrow the development gap among the members.
“Under the joint promotion of China-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement, RCEP agreement and the agreement reached by the leaders of China and Malaysia at the APEC meeting, the bilateral trade between China and Malaysia will be further enhanced,” said H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidin.
RCEP will make tomorrow better for CAEXPO
At the grand opening of the 17th CAEXPO on November 27, 2020, H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidin inspected the Malaysian exhibition hall as an important representative of the Malaysian delegation of exhibitors. After communicating with some businessmen, he said that it was his first time to attend CAEXPO, and that he was deeply impressed by the large number of visitors, which made him full of confidence in the development of bilateral relations between China and Malaysia. “I think the future of CAEXPO will be better. The liberalization of trade and the elimination of non-tariff barriers brought by RCEP will greatly benefit CAEXPO,” said H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidin.
One of the highlights of this CAEXPO is the version of the CAEXPO based on cloud technology. H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidin believed that the cloud CAEXPO reflects not only the consumption trend, but also the trend of historical development; and that, despite the consumption affecting by the COVID-19 this year, people can see the huge potential of new types of consumption with the development of digital economy.
He said: “It happens not just in China. I think it will benefit all parties if more similar events can be held outside China.”
At the opening ceremony of this CAEXPO, Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered a speech online. H.E. Raja Dato’ Nushirwan Zainal Abidin said that he highly appreciates two points in President Xi’s speech, namely, enhancing strategic mutual trust for in-depth docking of development planning and strengthening anti-epidemic cooperation for public health capacity-building.
In his view, the importance of “strengthening anti-epidemic cooperation for public health capacity-building” will become more pronounced over time. During the epidemic, the Chinese anti-epidemic medical expert group went to Malaysia, where they shared information about virus and exchanged experience in prevention, detection and treatment of the epidemic. Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyidin also expressed hopes for Malaysia and China to continue the anti-epidemic cooperation.
Source: China-ASEAN Panorama