Russian-Malaysian Trade Ready to Growth
Until now Russia is low down on the list of Malaysia’s trading partners. While trade has increased to $1 bn a year, largely boosted by Malaysia’s purchase of Sukhoi jets, all this is a tiny fraction of Malaysia’s total $290 bn a year trade. This is set to change, if Ambassador Dato’ Mohamad Khalis has his way. On the 40th anniversary of Russian-Malaysian diplomatic ties he told a round table session at the Russian Diplomatic Academy that the time was ripe to ratchet up the relationship. It’s not a question of “if” but “when, and how” he said. (See Passport Magazine June 2007, page 53).
At the moment trade is dominated by Russian imports of palm oil, electronics and electrical products, iron and steel products, plastics and processed food and Russian exports of chemicals and chemical products, metals products (mainly for the construction industry) , rubber products, paper and pulp products and iron and steel products.
The first visit by Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last month was expected to generate a number of high level agreements including a Partial Visa Abolition Agreement. Already Russian citizens receive a visa at the airport of arrival for a visit of up to 30 days and tourism from Russia is growing at 50% per annum.
Areas of particular potential for growth in trade and investment are Russian imports of electrical goods, including DVD and MP3 players, and digital cameras. There are also opportunities for high quality furniture, office and garden furniture, seafood, rubber products including surgical gloves, safety clothing and tropical organic foods. Russia’s health conscious consumers should be a ready market for Malaysian herbal medicines, health food and drinks, herbal cosmetics and toiletries. Russian entities are potential investors in Malaysian real estate and manufacturing enterprises.