BASEL – Malaysia and Switzerland have great potential to strengthen bilateral relations, including cooperation in new areas, says Malaysian Ambassador to Switzerland, Datuk Mohd Noor Zulkephli.
This included the fields of reserach and innovation, besides strengthening established collaborations in trade and investment, he said.
Speaking to Bernama here recently, Zulkephli said Switzerland had been an important trade partner for Malaysia till now, and was confident the relationship would continue.
The bilateral trade value between Malaysia and Switzerland last year was RM6.78 billion, a 23.6 per cent increase over the previous year, which recorded RM5.48 billion worth of trade.
Malaysia’s exports to Switzerland last year totalled RM0.83 billion, down 20 per cent as compared to 2012, while imports increased by 33.8 per cent, to RM5.95 billion in 2013.
Zulkephli said, for the five-year period ending in 2013, Switzerland recorded a surplus in bilateral trade with Malaysia, and efforts were ongoing to create a balance.
He was confident that the close and harmonious relationship between the two countries would continue, as there were no issues or disputes that could mar it.
The main export items from Malaysia to Switzerland last year were electrical and electronics goods worth RM216.1 million, followed by chemicals and chemical products (RM152.6 million), scientific and optical equipment (RM109.3 million), machinery, accessories and equipment (RM49.9 million) and metal products (RM28.8 million).
Meanwhile, among Malaysia’s main imports from Switzerland last year were machinery, accessories and equipment worth RM985.6 million, chemicals and checmical products (RM592.4 million), scientific and optical equipment (RM559.5 million), electrical and electronics items (RM306.4 million), and metal products (RM157.2 million).
On investment, Zulkephli said about 120 Swiss companies had invested in Malaysia, mainly in production of chemical products, machineries and accessories, electrical and electronic products, and transport equipment.
The companies currently provide job opportunities for about 20,000 Malaysians and the number of investors from Switzerland are expected to increase.
Touching on the tourism sector, the Malaysian ambassador said efforts to attract more visitors to Malaysia was ongoing, and the first three quarters of last year saw 21,043 Swiss tourists visiting Malaysia, a 9.7 per cent increase over the same period the previous year.
He said among the factors which affected the number of tourists from the country was the lack of direct flights from Zurich to Kuala Lumpur, after Malaysia Airlines (MAS) stopped servicing the route in 2008.
According to him, Swiss tourists love nature and are willing to spend to experience it in Malaysia.
“If MAS is ready to re-introduce the direct route between the countries, it will most certainly help,” he said.
Meanwhile, an initiative by Raja Muda Perlis, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail, along with Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Yayasan Tuanku Syed Putra, culture and tourism ministry’s department Perlis, BMC Travel and two Malaysian-owned restaurants to promote the state to Swiss tourists by offering Perlis cuisine received tremendous response from patrons there. – BERNAMA