India-Malaysia CEO’s forum has pitched for a balanced mega trade agreement among 16 countries, including India, China, Australia and ASEAN members, that include both commodities and services. “Both trade and investment will benefit from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) … Therefore, the Forum calls for a balanced RCEP which will address both trade and services and be concluded at an early date,” the forum said in a statement today. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega trade agreement being negotiated among 16 countries including ASEAN, India, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
RCEP aims to be a deep integration trade agreement covering trade in goods, trade in services, investment, economic and technical cooperation, intellectual property, competition, dispute settlement/legal and institutional issues among others. The India–Malaysia CEO Forum held its meeting yesterday and presented its report to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the statement said. The meeting coincided with the visit of Prime Minister of Malaysia Najib Raza to India from March 31 – April 4, 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razad today held wide-ranging talks on cultural, economic and strategic engagement. The CEO forum said that there is a need for fresh investments by public and private sector companies from both sides, adding, “some hand holding would be needed, which can be provided by Invest India on the Indian side and MIDA on the Malaysian side.”
“Both sides also noted that companies can also look for the possibility of joint-venture in each other’s countries or third countries specially in the ASEAN region,” it added. The CEO forum identified key sectors for further cooperation and as well as the next steps required to boost bilateral economic cooperation. “India offers good opportunity for Malaysian Pension and Provident Funds to invest in Indian Infrastructure assets – specially brownfield assets in various sectors like road, aviation, power, offering long-term steady returns. Investments could also be made in Indian Infrastructure Funds,” the statement said.
Noting that in initial years Malaysian companies participating in India’s infrastructure programme had experienced difficulties which have been subsequently addressed by India, the statement said, “This has provided fresh impetus for Malaysian companies to re-look and consider investing in Indian infrastructure projects in a big way.” It also pointed out that the Indian side was looking at railway, water treatment and other projects in Malaysia.
Malaysia is India’s third largest trading partner in ASEAN. Bilateral trade between Malaysia and India stood at USD 12.8 billion in 2015-16, as against USD 16.9 billion in 2014-15. The trade balance is in favour of Malaysia (USD 5.4 billion in 2015-16). The forum members also agreed that specific sectors like manufacturing, industrial corridors in India and SMEs needs to be nourished and given special focus including in the context of
India’s Make in India initiative and Malaysia’s focus on SMEs. “The forum members agreed that laws and regulations should be made easier by the governments to ensure that professionals on both sides can practice in each other’s country without impediments,” the statement said.