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[ 02-03-2016 ]
Malaysia To Push For A More Closer And Integrated ASEAN Community - Mustapa

BANGKOK, March 2 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will maintain its leadership role towards ensuring the newly-established ASEAN Community grows closer in all sectors of the economy.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said a closer and integrated ASEAN would drive many benefits to member countries, whether in trade, investment or tourism.

"ASEAN has been doing very well compared to other regions in the world. We are therefore, very bullish about the region and its prospects," he said during a dinner on Tuesday with Malaysia's business community and professionals in Thailand.

It was held at the Malaysian embassy here.

The ASEAN Community was formally established in December last year under Malaysia's chairmanship of the regional grouping and Kuala Lumpur, Mustapa said, would maintain its leadership role in efforts to bring the region closer.

He will be travelling to more ASEAN countries this year to bring about better relations and networking to increase the integration of the 10 member- grouping.

Mustapa said each ASEAN member country had its own strength, and cited Thailand for the automotive, tourism and agriculture sectors, while Malaysia is strong in banking, electrical and electronics as well as Information Technology (IT).

"We have to look at each other and compare. We also need to learn from one another. Malaysia can learn from the other ASEAN members based on their strength in relevant sectors," he added.

He said the government wanted to see more Malaysian companies go global and penetrate the international market, like what has been achieved by Petronas, Khazanah Nasional, Sime Darby and Felda Global Ventures (FGV), among others.

On the local front, Mustapa said the country's economy faced several challenges, one being the plunging oil prices which had affected government revenue, as 30 per cent of its income source was from oil and gas as of last year.

"This year, the government has projected that oil and gas will contribute 20 per cent to government revenue. But, any shortfall in income has been addressed with the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST)," he added.

Another challenge faced by the local economy Mustapa said, was the lower prices of commodities, namely palm oil and rubber, which was mainly due to the slowing down of China's economy.

Mustapa will attend a Malaysia-Thailand trade seminar today, before flying to Chiangmai later in the evening for the ASEAN Economic Minister's (AEM) retreat which begins tomorrow.

Also present at the dinner was Malaysia's ambassador to Thailand, Datuk Nazirah Hussain.

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