KARACHI: Malaysia and Pakistan through enhanced cooperation and joint initiatives can advance in various social and economic fields.
Bilateral cooperation between the two countries is not only confined to political and economic spheres but also in other areas such as education, tourism, defense and technical assistance, said Malaysian Council General Khairul Nazran Abd Rehman while talking to APP here Saturday.
Malaysia and Pakistan enjoyed warm and friendly relations since the establishment of diplomatic relations in 1957, he said.
Both the countries shared similar position on regional and international issues through their common membership in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and G-77 organization. In addition, Pakistan is also a sectoral dialogue partner of ASEAN and a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF).
He said Pakistan had remained one of the Malaysia's largest trading partner among South Asian countries. The balance of trade has consistently been in Malaysia's favour.
Both countries need to diversify goods beyond palm oil and cereals to increase their trade.
Malaysia and Pakistan signed Free Trade Agreement on 8 November 2007 in Kuala Lumpur. It is Pakistan's first comprehensive FTA for trade in goods, services. This was Malaysia's first bilateral FTA with any South Asian country.
In 2017, the bilateral trade increased by 3.5% to dollars 1.34 billion from dollars 1.34 billion in 2016.
Pakistan had also emerged as an important market for palm kernel cake, which is used as an ingredient for animal feeds. In 2017, Pakistan imported 0.3 million tones of palm Kernel cake and became the fourth largest importer of the commodity after New Zealand, European Union and South Korea.
Malaysian Commercial Counselor said that Malaysia had been able to keep the prices of palm products competitive by increasing productivity.
On May 28, 2007 Malaysia and Pakistan had signed a memorandum of understanding on Cooperation in the Field of tourism. In 2017, tourist arrivals from Pakistan figured 53,453 -- a decrease of 8.5% as compared to 58,388 arrivals in 2016.
Malaysia hopes more tourists from Pakistan would choose Malaysia for their holidays.