Malaysia and Morocco cement several accords

Nov 13, 2001 01:00 AM

Moroccan Prime Minister Abderrahmane Al Youssoufi kicked-off a four-day state visit to Malaysia by cementing several accords, including a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the formation of a Joint commission covering economic, technical, scientific and cultural aspects.
Both countries also signed agreements on economic, technical, scientific and cultural cooperation; the air services agreement and the exchange of expertise in the information technology (IT). Besides formalizing closer trade relations, Abderrahmane and Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, leaders of two Muslim nations, also discussed on the West Asian issue especially on Palestine.
"Both leaders feel there is a need for efforts to resolve the Palestinian problems and the establishment of a Palestinian state to tackle the problems in that region," Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told.

Abderrahmane who is accompanied by a 36-member delegation, arrived to seek ways of enhancing bilateral and trade relations. Syed Hamid said both leaders have wrapped up a session of intensive talks on strengthening and expanding their relationship. The discussions focused on measures to accelerate two-way trade and investment flows, while also roving across a broad swathe of matters of common concern.
Dr Mahathir welcomed Abderrahmane's visit as a milestone in the development of the long-standing and wide-ranging Malaysia-Morocco friendship. Currently, the level of bilateral trade favours Malaysia in the last 10 years with exports to Morocco amounted to 207.1 mm dirham ($ 1=10.5 dirham) mainly in the form of consumer and electrical products while imports comprised tobacco products, fruit juice and canned fish, totalling 1.8 mm dirham. Syed Hamid also said that in the field of investment and trade, Dr Mahathir and Abderrahmane had agreed that both countries increased the two-way trade which was still negligible.

Morocco also wanted Malaysia to use the country as an entry point for Malaysian goods to the European market while Malaysia wanted Morocco to use Malaysia as the entry point for Moroccan goods for ASEAN and Asian markets. Syed Hamid said that Morocco had invited Malaysia's National oil company, Petronas, to participate directly and actively in oil and gas exploration in that country.
Currently, Petronas' involvement in Morocco is through the Syarikat Energy Afrika. Petronas has an interest in the company. Malaysia and Morocco signed a bilateral trade agreement in 1997 and its implementation had taken effect early this year. Syed Hamid said Dr Mahathir also wanted Morocco to send more students to study in this country especially in the technical and information technology including at the Multimedia University.
Malaysia also offered training programs under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Program as Malaysia had good educational infrastructure. There are only two Moroccan students currently studying here. Syed Hamid said both parties also discussed increasing cooperation in investment, tourism and information and communication technology besides international issues including terrorism.

Meanwhile, Abdelrahim Ait Slimane, second secretary in charge of economic affairs at Morocco's Embassy in Kuala Lumpur said: "Both countries are active members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and with the current global economic and political uncertainties arising from the terrorist attacks in the US the need for Muslim nations to strengthen their economic cooperation becomes more urgent."
He added that there are numerous infrastructure projects in new townships which Malaysian companies can bid for. Slimane said Morocco climatic conditions characterized by the Saharan zones in the mountainous region and the Mediterranean weather in the coastal regions make Morocco a favourite tourist destination. Tourist arrival from Malaysia is still very low due largely to the distance and the lack of information.

Slimane said the embassy receives an annual average of about 300 inquiries from Malaysianseither regarding business or social visits to Morocco. "There is tremendous potential to promote two-way tourism traffic between both countries, especially in the wake of the recent OIC meeting on tourism in Kuala Lumpur. "What is needed is a concerted effort to conduct promotional activities and expose various interesting tourist destinations of both countries," he suggested. Slimane also proposed that both countries hold regular trade fairs to promote various export-potential products besides establishing direct flights from both countries.

Source: IRNA
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