PETALING JAYA: Senior Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and his trade and investment mission team are in Turkey to enhance bilateral trade and to showcase Malaysia as an investment destination of choice, says the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti).
The ministry said that considering the strong relationship between the two countries, the mission is key in charting the next phase of trade and economic cooperation for both Malaysia and Turkey.
“The mission would provide an impetus for further exploring new and creative ways of enhancing bilateral market access which would ultimately uplift economic growth for both countries,” said the ministry in a statement Tuesday (July 13).
Azmin, who is also the International Trade and Industry Minister, recently courted controversy after a photograph of him posing in front of the historical Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, emerged on social media, with netizens claiming that he was there with his family members.
The photograph, said to be taken and posted by a Turkish travel account earlier Monday (July 12), was captioned: “It was a pleasure to guide for Mr Muhammed Azmin Ali (Senior Minister of Malaysia). He was willing and patient to listen to stories of Hagia Sophia”.
The photograph showed Azmin standing alone with a Turkish tour guide at an undisclosed location in the country. The photograph did not show his family members.
However, netizens have shared screenshots of what they allege to be the original caption, which claimed that Azmin was there with his family.
They criticised Azmin for allegedly going on holiday despite Covid-19 cases still happening in the country’s factories, especially in Selangor.
Miti said that Azmin held a bilateral meeting with his counterpart Turkish Trade Minister Dr Mehmet Mus, where a wide spectrum of measures to enhance bilateral economic, trade and investment relations were discussed.
“Particularly, the discussions centred on the implementation of the Malaysia-Turkey Free Trade Agreement (MTFTA) and the way forward to advance negotiations to expand the MTFTA.
“Both ministers agreed to intensify efforts to conclude the text-based negotiations of the MTFTA expansion this year,” explained Miti.
The ministry also noted that both ministers signed a joint declaration on the expansion of the FTA between the government of Malaysia and the government of Turkey.
This is to reinforce the mandate in pursuing the expansion of the agreement to include chapters on services, investment and e-commerce.
“The signing of the joint declaration marks a resolute commitment from both countries to continue to take the path of progressive liberalisation at a time when new forms of protectionism are taking root,” it said.
Aside from that, one-to-one business meetings with targeted high-profile Turkish companies as well as potential investors had also been conducted, to further explore new business opportunities.
“The Senior Minister offered assurances that Malaysia is committed to ensuring ease of doing business through business-friendly policies and comprehensive measures to solidify economic cooperation.
“Further, quality and high-impact investments from Turkey are also welcomed to further catalyse Malaysia’s
value creation, in line with the country’s National Investment Aspirations,” said Miti.
Earlier at a separate event, Azmin also witnessed the signing of a Heads of Agreement (HOA) between Sapura Technics Sdn Bhd and Turkish Airlines Technic Inc in Istanbul, marking a strategic joint venture on Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operations in Senai Airport, Johor Baru.
The Senior Minister reiterated Malaysia’s clear and comprehensive exit strategy from the Covid-19 pandemic through the National Recovery Plan.
He also shared that Malaysia is accelerating its immunisation programme, targeted to ensure that Malaysia will have a smooth and swift exit out of the pandemic and advance along the trajectory of robust and sustained economic recovery.
Last year, Turkey was Malaysia’s third largest trading partner and fifth source of imports in the West Asia region.
The total trade volume between both countries was recorded at RM9.62bil (US$2.30bil) with Malaysia’s exports to Turkey amounted to RM7.62bil (US$1.82bil) and imports totalled at RM2bil (US$0.48bil).