Malaysia is keen to expedite negotiations with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two parties, deputy minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said on Monday.
He said Malaysia and the GCC member countries have much to gain from expanded trade and investment ventures.
“The potential market exists not just in our markets but also in the wider reach that each of us has through our trade and economic linkages with the rest of the world, namely Malaysia within Asean and the various FTAs that we have concluded and likewise the GCC with their trading partners,” he told reporters after opening the Malaysia-Arab Business Forum.
Mukhriz said currently Malaysia’s economic linkages with the GCC and members of the Organisation of The Islamic Conference were mainly with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Earlier, in his speech, Mukhriz said between 2008 and September 2009, investments from the two countries totalled RM92.9 billion, with a fairly strong Malaysian presence there.
“There’s so much potential we have yet to explore with the other GCC member countries and one of it is in the services sector,” he said.
Mukhriz invited interested parties within the GCC seeking Islamic financing to take advantage of the wide range of syariah-compliant services available in Malaysia.
He said Malaysia was gearing up to be a premier international Islamic financial centre for the origination, distribution and trading of Islamic capital market products including treasury instruments such as sukuk (Islamic bond).
“I would like to invite parties from the GCC to work with Malaysia to develop the Islamic banking industry to our mutual benefit,” he said, adding that the government had introduced various measures and tax incentives to create a modern and efficient international Islamic financial centre.
Asked to comment on the current Dubai financial crisis potential impact on Malaysia, Mukhriz said: “I can’t really say how it has impacted us so far, but being a trading nation, we are keeping a keen eye on developments in that area.”