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2013 New Year Message by Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting, Chairman of Malaysia-China Business Council

It is time to usher in 2013 as the new year dawns. Looking back, the world economy has weathered a few crises and overcame many difficulties but it continues to forge ahead even under such challenging global environment. Malaysia and China have not been spared by the influence of the ups and downs of the global economy and are both under pressure in managing our economic development. However, we all have been able to achieve our targets and attain our goals. China, in particular has undertaken structural transformation in economic development. It has opted for a slower and steadier growth, forgoing the double-digit, neck-breaking pace seen in the past years. However, a slower but steadier growth has the stabilising effects vital for the world economy.

The year 2012 has proven very fruitful for Malaysia and China in trade and economic co-operation. This is very significant to our bilateral ties. Our relationship is at its best ever in history.

On April 1, 2012, the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park was jointly launched by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak to become a model of China-Asean economic co-operation. The development of the Qinzhou Industrial Park – from conception right up to the official opening ceremony – took only a year. The remarkable speed has given rise to the now popular term “Qinzhou speed”, a buzzword common in Malaysia to benchmark speedy action and excellent result.

Our two Governments have been very serious in regard to the Qinzhou joint-venture project. Since the official launch, the Qinzhou joint management team has been working untiringly. On June 17, we held the first promotion campaign in Kuala Lumpur attended by well-known entrepreneurs and leading businessmen. On August 8, a similar campaign was held at the People’s Great Hall in Beijing, attended by about 800 government leaders at the national and different local levels, as well as business and corporate leaders.

As the co-ordinator of this iconic joint-venture project, MCBC has participated in full the whole development process from the initial planning stage to being full partners in the joint management organisation. We will continue to play the vital role of overseeing and co-ordinating this joint-venture project between our two countries. We see it as a historic mission and a great honour to MCBC.

Besides the Qinzhou Industrial Park, an agreement of co-operation for the establishment of its sister park, the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, was signed in 2012. In fact, the past year also witnessed several landmark developments in our relationship. They included the signing of an economic and trade co-operation agreement between Kuantan and Qinzhou, the reciprocal recognition of tertiary degrees, the loaning of panda bears to Malaysia, an accord in transnational crime busting, as well other major projects such as the second bridge of Penang and the Bakun Dam. These are sure indicators of the broadening and deepening of co-operation between our two countries in the fields of politics, economy, culture, education and security.

Since 2009, China has become Malaysia’s biggest trading partner and likewise, Malaysia has been elevated to become China’s biggest trading partner in Asean. There is no denying that trade is of vital importance to us and we hope that in the year 2013, our trade with China will breach the US$100 billion mark, making Malaysia the third after Japan and South Korea to do so.

The 2013 Economic Forecast recently released by the World Bank indicates that the economies of China and East Asia remain resilient despite global uncertainties in 2013. China’s growth is expected to pick up while Malaysia’s GDP growth for 2012 and 2013 have been revised upwards to 5.1 per cent and 5 per cent. The 152 Entry Point Projects under the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) are right on track. While our deficit is falling, private investment has chalked up a new record for the last 10 years. The World Bank, in its Doing Business 2013 Report, raised Malaysia’s ranking in business friendliness to the 12th position in 2013 from 18th in 2012.

At the same time, China’s new leadership is sparing no effort to deepen economic transformation and to expand its open policy. The thrust of China’s economic development in 2013 as proposed by the Central Economic Working Committee in its mid-December meeting was to progress in stability to ensure the continuation of a healthy economic development. There is optimism of a rebounce in China’s economic growth in 2013 to return to the 8 per cent level. This will enable China to continue its role as the locomotive of global economic development.

We remain cautiously optimistic as we look at all these positive developments. There bounds to be risks and opportunities in the 2013 global economy. We must muster all our resources and strengthen our co-operation in order to create a win-win situation for our mutual benefit.

We wish everyone a happy new year, blessed with good health and new prosperity.

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