Malaysia and Britain to double trade by 2016

PUTRAJAYA - The topics discussed between Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his British counterpart, David Cameron, were wide ranging, but the focus was on the continued growth of Malaysia and Britain, and security of both nations.

Both said the topics were inevitable, given the long relationship between the two countries and growth of world terrorism, and Malaysia's call for moderation among all nations.

"When we met last July, we acknowledged that the opportunity for bilateral ties and trade was simply enormous and must be nurtured.

"Today, we agreed that bilateral trade will be doubled by 2016. I admit this is ambitious, but we will try to work towards this," Najib said at a joint press conference with Cameron after the meeting.

Cameron is the first British prime minister to make an official visit to Malaysia in 19 years.

Recognising the investments of British-based companies in Malaysia, Najib singled out educational institutions and retail businesses.

He cited the universities of Newcastle, Southampton and Reading, which had or were about to open campuses in Malaysia, as well as retail kings Giant and Tesco.

"I note there are 54,000 Malaysians who are desirous of getting some form of British education.

"If we can open up more avenues for them, it will certainly be mutually beneficial."

There are 13,000 Malaysians studying in the UK.

Najib said cooperation between the two countries in terms of defence extended beyond the Five Power Defence Arrangement, which holds that Britain, Australia and New Zealand would come to the military aid of Malaysia and Singapore, should it be needed.

"We appreciate all that they have done and we (Najib and Cameron) discussed the possibility of Britain taking part in future defence procurements."

Cameron also described the ties between the two countries over the past two decades as an era of benign relationship.

Announcing that "Britain is back", he said he was determined to double the trade between the two countries, adding this was why he had brought a strong delegation with him.

He said there would be new partnerships in terms of educational institutions as well as a doubling of the number of Chevening scholarships for Malaysians.

On the most compelling reasons for his visit to Malaysia, Cameron said there were two.

"Our countries face two similar challenges: how to achieve continued economic growth and development and ensure the young people have well paid jobs and a strong future, and keeping the citizens safe.

"That is a great challenge that we can help overcome with more investments, trade between our countries and more cooperation.

"It is particularly important for Britain. We want to make sure we are trading with the fastest-growing parts of the world, and here in Southeast Asia, your economies are now some of the strongest (in) the world."

Describing Malaysia as an "economic heavyweight", he said there were 150,000 Malaysians working for UK companies and several others who owned businesses in Britain, including Queens Park Rangers and Cardiff City football clubs.

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