KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 ― The partnership cooperation agreement (PCA) between Malaysia and the European Union (EU), which will be signed in January next year, is a big step forward to boost more bilateral and trade agreements between the two parties.
Belgium State Secretary, Philippe De Backer said the framework, which was announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail after meeting Federica Maria Mogherini, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy during the recently-concluded 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), would pave the way for easy trade allowing more investments to penetrate into the respective economies within the Union, especially in enhancing the thriving economic ties shared between Malaysia and Belgium.
“In this regard, I am sure EU is looking for more bilateral agreements and this is one of the many next important steps.
“But first, certain aspects in the industries need to be identified, including all tariffs as well as lowering non-tariff barriers in order to unlock new opportunities to further increase the collaborations and investments.
“It will be good for the economy and it is indeed, a big step if the EU starts the pathway, “said De Backer, who was in a trade mission to Malaysia and Singapore, in an exclusive interview with Bernama on the sidelines of Belgium King’s Day celebrations held here recently.
De Backer, accompanied by the Governor of Antwerp Province Cathy Berx, led a delegation of 40 businessmen and women from the Antwerp region, seeking opportunities to foster trade and investment in various sectors, including palm oil and machinery.
PCA is a comprehensive agreement on bilateral and multilateral cooperation comprising politics, economics, trade, investment, justice, culture, education, science and technology, healthcare, agriculture, tourism, energy, traffic and environment.
As agreed upon, the PCA needs to be first signed by individual ASEAN members with the EU to qualify for the free-trade agreement (FTA).
Concurring with De Backer, Berx elaborated that though all FTA-related negotiations were done at EU level, Belgium-Malaysia bilateral ties had always been in favour of Malaysia to date.
“Within the EU, Belgium is a country with which Malaysia is working a lot so there is an increase of bilateral trade between Malaysia and Belgium. It has doubled in 10 years’ time and there is more export from Malaysia to Belgium than the other way around.
“But for Belgium, they import much more from Malaysia than they export to Malaysia, thus that is why people are looking for more opportunities and it is the reason why the demand is getting stronger now.
“This is just a perfect time and trade climate for both, that can be very good win-win (situation) so that you can see how we can have increased trade,” she noted.
Berx said with Belgium’s recognition as the most globalised economy in the world as ranked by the KOF Globalisation Index 2018, she believed Belgium would always be committed to free trade with this country.
“Despite the fact that we are a small country, we always say we have huge foreign markets.”
Up till 2017, Belgium exports to Malaysia stood at RM2.7 billion (€580.5 million) while imports were at RM5.04 billion (€1,056.7 million). ― Bernama