KUALA LUMPUR, March 13 (Bernama) -- Malaysia aims to increase its trade with South Korea by 20 per cent this year after bilateral trade hit US$26 billion (RM114.55 billion) in 2022.
International Trade and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, who will lead a trade mission to Seoul from March 14-17, said that in order to achieve the target, Malaysia plans to continue the engagement and discussions with giant South Korean companies, namely Samsung, Hyundai, Coway, and Lotte during the visit.
“We will continue to engage with them and hopefully it will materialise into investments.
“More importantly, this is a long-term initiative and as we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Look East Policy (LEP) with South Korea today, we have seen the success of the policy where since it started in 1983, investments into Malaysia have increased more than 23 times.
“For the trip, we are going to bring along the investment promotion agencies (IPAs), regional corridor (authorities), and also Malaysian companies where we will try and match Korean and Malaysian companies to get the best (impact) on the economy,” he told the media after the opening ceremony of the Malaysia-South Korea 40th LEP anniversary here today.
South Korean ambassador to Malaysia Yeo Seung Bae was also present at the event.
South Korea was the eighth largest trading partner for Malaysia with total trade amounting to US$26.01 billion in 2022, an increase of 29.7 per cent compared with US$21.01 billion in 2021.
In terms of investment, the country has been one of Malaysia’s top sources of foreign direct investment (FDIs) for the manufacturing sector, with 374 projects worth US$9.2 billion being implemented and generating 46,260 jobs as of June 2022.
Tengku Zafrul pointed out that capacity-building activities through the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) agenda could also further elevate the economic cooperation between Malaysia and South Korea.
The minister said under the LEP framework, this particular front is envisaged to further reinforce and harness the synergies of both countries in addressing emerging global issues for mutual benefit.
With the East Asian country’s top 10 ranking in terms of trading and investment with Malaysia, Tengku Zafrul said Malaysia could learn more from the South Koreans.
“South Korea started with humble beginnings and one area going forward that we can learn is ESG as their ESG ranking is high.
“If you look at the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) criteria, there is a lot of room (for other things) so the collaboration cannot be just in terms of investment, but also capacity-building where we can do knowledge-sharing on how Malaysian companies can be more competitive as well,” he added.
Based on the Sustainable Development 2022 report, South Korea is ranked 27th out of 163 countries with an overall score of 77.90 per cent.
According to the Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM), South Korea ranked 10th in FDI at the end of 2021.
The LEP was introduced in 1982 by the fourth prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, with the objective to learn from the experiences of both South Korea and Japan in nation-building.