Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said he is optimistic that Malaysia and India will be able to expand their existing economic cooperation. Bernama Photo

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has said he is optimistic that Malaysia and India will be able to expand their existing economic cooperation.

He said that this will be made possible with the cooperation of India’s major industry players.

“Businesses play an important role not just in terms of profits, but also (through) creating and sustaining environments that would bring development and job creation to the areas they operate in.

“Malaysia and India share common interests, as we aim for regional stability and prosperity. A stable country or region needs a stable economy to prosper,” he said in a posting at his najibrazak.com website, today.

The Prime Minister’s remarks come following his participation in a roundtable session with south Indian captains of industry in Chennai, yesterday.

Najib said he was pleased to have met with many south Indian business leaders.

“They represent businesses (in sectors) ranging from footwear, mining, automotive and agriculture to technology and healthcare services – truly a diverse representation of their businesses here.

“Many ideas were exchanged during our roundtable session, and many (of them) also expressed interest in investing in Malaysia.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to grow our economic cooperation even more with India’s industry players,” he said.

The metropolitan south Indian city was the first leg of Najib’s six-day official visit to India.

The Prime Minister said that since relations between Malaysia and India officially began in 1957, economic and trade relations have gone from strength to strength.

“Back in 2015, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inaugural visit to Malaysia, Malaysia and India declared our relationship to be an ‘Enhanced Strategic Partnership’.

“While we have enjoyed close relations over the years, Prime Minister Modi and I agreed that there are still enormous, unexplored opportunities between the two nations.

Najib added that Modi’s visit led to the deepening of existing areas of cooperation and the exploration of new areas of cooperation between the two nations.

He said that in 2016, Malaysia was Chennai’s 9th largest export destination and 7th largest source of imports. Meanwhile, India is Malaysia’s 10th largest trading partner, accounting for 3.3 per cent, or US$11.7 billion, of our total trade.

“Now, with the growth of new areas such as the digital economy, I am confident that we will be able to bring our relations to even greater heights,” he said.

Najib observed that amidst global economic uncertainties, Malaysia has remained resilient and open for business.

“Our economy (achieved) 4.2 per cent growth in 2016, and (foreign direct investment) in the manufacturing, services and primary sectors approved by MIDA in 2016 increased by 63.4 per cent from the year before,” he said.

Najib added that BAV Consulting and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, in their 2017 report, ranked Malaysia as the best country to invest in.

Malaysia has also retained its position as the most attractive location of choice for manufacturers in the recent Cushman & Wakefield report “Manufacturing Risk Index 2017”.

Meanwhile, in the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business Report 2017’, Malaysia was ranked 23rd globally in ease of doing business, outranking countries like France, Switzerland and Japan. In the Asean region, Malaysia was ranked second.

“Malaysia remains an attractive destination for investments and businesses, and I intend to ensure that we remain so for a long, long time. Malaysia is open for business,” Najib added.

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