BEIJING: Doors are opening wide for Malaysian businesses in China because of the amicable ties between the governments and top leaders of both countries, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak says.
Concluding his five-day visit to China yesterday for the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, he said many Malaysian entrepreneurs and corporate figures took the opportunity to have business discussions with their Chinese counterparts.
"It is as if they have now gotten the key to open doors that were tricky to access in the past because of certain obstacles.
"Things are easier now as the Chinese have taken the cue and read the signals from the top level," Najib told Malaysian reporters.
At the meeting between Najib and Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on Saturday, Xi reiterated that the diplomatic ties between China and Malaysia were at another "historic high".
Najib said while the exact value of these business negotiations on the sideline of his working trip were difficult to assess, the businesses were excited with the abundance of opportunities.
Officially, nine business-to-business memorandums of understanding (MoU) with total value of US$7.22bil (S$10.09bil) were signed.
Prior to arriving in Beijing, Najib was in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, to meet Alibaba founder Jack Ma, whom Najib said will come to Malaysia in October to launch the e-fulfilment centre of the Digital Free Trade Zone. Ma is adviser to the development of e-economy.
"Everywhere I go, doors are open as wide as possible for us to have all sorts of economic ties and business arrangements.
"This is possible because of the Government efforts, and the trust and confidence we have built so far. Hopefully this will translate into benefits for the business community and the people as a whole.
"That is why it is important to have strategic relations with China," he said.
Najib said as an early supporter of China's Belt and Road initiative, Malaysia was able to harvest the fruits in the form of infrastructure development such as the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) funded by China's Exim Bank.
"Once it is implemented and institutionalised, the ECRL will boost the gross domestic product growth of the east coast by 1.5 per cent.
"During the construction period, thousands of jobs will be created. We are also in the process of launching training programmes for those involved, including technicians and suppliers," Najib said.
Malaysia is at pole position to take advantage of this initiative, he added.
Commenting on the two-day forum, Najib said the mega initiative would forge connectivity between China and Asia, Europe, East Africa and South America.
"This is just the beginning. There are only 29 leaders at the forum this time.
"But as success breeds success, there will be more and more countries joining as time goes," he said.
Besides the 29 heads of state and high-level officials from over 100 countries, representatives from European Union and international institutions like International Monetary Fund, United Nations and World Bank were present to show their endorsement and support.
Xi, in his opening speech, stressed that the Belt and Road initiative champions shared prosperity with win-win solutions, gearing towards world peace.
"Traditionally, it used to be the West exporting capital to the East, setting up factories, and the people in the East are workers. But now it is the East exporting capital to the West, creating jobs, bringing technology and providing markets. This is a paradigm shift in the world economic order.
"Malaysia is well-positioned because of our strong links with China. So this is a wonderful opportunity for us to advance our economies together with China," he said.
Najib added that Xi will host the next Belt and Road Forum in 2019.