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Najib, Xi to 'set future direction' of bilateral ties

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BOOSTING TIES AND TRADE: Chinese president to ink several economic cooperation and trade agreements

KUALA LUMPUR:   MALAYSIA and China are expected to sign several economic pacts and memoranda of understanding (MoUs) during Chinese President's Xi Jinping state visit here, his first since assuming office in March.

Xi, who arrives today, will have bilateral talks with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak during his three-day visit which Wisma Putra said would "set the future direction" of Malaysia-China ties.

"This (state) visit of President Xi is of utmost importance as it signals the commitment of the new Chinese leadership to maintain the long-standing friendly relations with Malaysia," Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said.

"The visit is envisaged to take into account the geo-strategic developments rapidly taking place in the region," he said at a news briefing ahead of the visit.

Xi will be accompanied by a 100-strong delegation, which includes his wife, Peng Liyuan, State Councillor overseeing foreign diplomacy Yang jiechi, Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi and Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng.

The highlight of the visit will be Xi and Najib's keynote addresses at the Malaysia-China Economic Summit here.

The two leaders will then witness the signing of several major economic agreements and MoUs. These include a five-year programme for bilateral trade and economic cooperation beginning this year.

The MoU would provide further clarity and certainty on the future direction and priorities of bilateral trade and economic cooperation, he said.

Others include an MoU between 1Malaysia Development Bhd's and Exim Bank of China, as well as an MoU to establish the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park, and an agreement to establish a joint council for the park and the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park.

Anifah said the trip would enable Xi and Najib to reaffirm their commitment to strengthen cooperation in all fields and contribute to the prosperity and maintenance of peace and stability in the region.

Last year, bilateral trade between the two nations reached a historic high of US$94.8 billion (RM303.36 billion)

During a recent interview with the Malaysian and Indonesian press, Xi said Malaysia was expected to become the third Asian country, following Japan and Korea, to have trade with China in excess of US$100 billion.

"China-Malaysia relations have come a long way in recent years and are well on track to an all-round, steady and results-oriented expansion," Xi said in the interview, which was published in the New Straits Times yesterday.

For the first seven months of this year, 12.5 per cent of Malaysian exports went to China, while 16.3 per cent of Malaysia's imports originated from China. Malaysia's imports from China are almost as much as those from Japan and the United States combined.

Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to arrive in Malaysia tomorrow for a three-day visit.

Najib and Stephen are expected to discuss trade and investment in oil and gas, agriculture, and transport.

The visit is also to boost cooperation in security, military, finance and private sector engagement.

Malaysia has been benefiting from Canada's International Development Research Centre, which supports activities contributing to better policies, technologies and research capacity in agriculture, fisheries, education, health, science and technology.

These visits will place Malaysia on the centre stage of international diplomacy and reinforce its efforts to promote exchanges that improve the country's global standing.

Chinese President Xi Jinping waving to the media in Jakarta yesterday after a joint press conference with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Xi arrives in Malaysia today. AP pic


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