News From : DagangHalal.com (18 Sep 2010)
BANGKOK, Sept 18 (Bernama) – Malaysia-Thailand bilateral trade could hit a record of US$20 billion if the current momentum continues until end of the year, the outgoing Malaysian Ambassador to Thailand Datuk Husni Zai Yaacob said today.
He said both countries recorded a total trade of US$7.2 billion from January to April this year, an increase of 45 per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.
Economic recovery in both countries, greater domestic demand in respective country and the Asean Free Trade Area were the main factors that contributed to the higher figure, he told Bernama here.
“The Thais will have to wait for three months now to get their Proton Exora due to the greater domestic consumption in this country currently,” he said.
Malaysia”s exports to the country consists of electrical and electronics goods, crude petroleum, chemical and chemical products, machineries, appliances and parts.
On the other hand, Malaysia imports electrical and electronics products, automotive and automotive parts and rubber from Thailand.
Bilateral trade between the two countries amounted to US$16 billion during the economic crisis last year and US$18 billion in 2008.
Malaysia is currently the fifth largest investor in Thailand after Japan, United States, Singapore and China and the second largest within Asean after Singapore.
Husni said Malaysians invested 1.1 Billion Baht in the country for the first four months of this year, an increase of 60 per cent from the previous year.
“Overall, the political development in this country has no major impact on the two countries” trade and investment,” he said, referring to the recent political turbulence in the country.
A peaceful street protest started on March 12 and ended with violence and unrest on May 19 with 91 people dead and more than 1,800 injured.
In the tourism sector, Husni said 940,000 Malaysians visited this country while 700,000 Thais visited Malaysia for the January-June period this year.
“Political development such as the Red Shirt protest in this country too has little impact on the number of Malaysians visiting Thailand,” he said.
On the bilateral relationship, he said both countries enjoyed strong and substantive relations.
“It is the best relationship in the last five years because of strong economic relation and strong political links with the two prime ministers enjoying strong rapport,” he said.
Husni said there was also a strong cooperation between the two countries at the border. For the first time, Lima Dasar Strategi will be introduced to promote cooperation between five states of Malaysia and five provinces of Thailand in five areas.
The states are Kelantan, Kedah, Perlis, Penang and Perak and the provinces are Yala, Narathiwat, Patani, Songkhla and Satun while the areas are trade and investment, tourism, logistics, halal industry and education.
They would be holding a summit, an expo and business matching programme in Haadyai from Sept 22 till 26.
On the completion of his 22 months tour of duty on Sept 20, Husni described his stint as very rewarding and interesting as he had accomplished a lot of things including enhancing economic, trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.
Husni arrived in this capital Nov 2008 to begin his new assignment as ambassador to this country and the next day the Suvarnabhumi Airport was closed following the seizure by the Yellow Shirts supporters.
“It is a very useful experience in crisis management. We were not sure of the outcome (of the seizure) and people back home as well as Malaysians here were worried and needed our advice,” he said.
Another major crisis he handled was the Red Shirts rally and at the height of it, the embassy opened its operation centre 24 hours a day to provide assistance and advice to Malaysians.
It was not altogether new for the diplomat, who in his 30 years of experience has also seen through other crises including a revolution in the Philippines in 1986 as well as the United States” invasion in Iraq when he was the ambassador to Kuwait. Iraq fired few rockets into Kuwait at that time.
He said the most important lessons that could be learnt during his stint in this country was the good contingency plans and planning for the probable worst case scenarios.
“You also have to work closely with the embassy staff, Malaysia-Thailand Chamber of Commerce and Kelab Malaysia as you have to plan for their families” safety and properties and work closely with the host government in handling the crisis.”
It is important to analyse the crisis carefully before making any decisions and an example is to look at whether the protesters are targeting foreigners, said Husni who would be returning to serve at Wisma Putra