Malaysia on Wednesday assured India that it would ensure smooth and hassle-free movement of IT and other professionals from India and other parts of the world. Both countries also set an ambitious bilateral trade target of $15 billion by 2015, indicating enhanced levels of engagement.

The assurance came when visiting Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma met Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Najib Tun Razak and held discussions on the issue of bilateral interest. The progress on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) and the proposed visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Malaysia by the end of this year also came up for discussion during the meeting.

Soon after the meeting, Mr. Sharma said Mr. Najib had assured him that his government would provide good working conditions here for IT professionals from India and other parts of the globe.

“We reviewed the progress of CECA and also the proposed ASEAN treaty on the services sector. We are hopeful that the FTA with Malaysia would be signed when Dr. Singh visits the country by the end of this year. We also agreed to set an ambitious target of $15 billion for the growth of bilateral trade by 2015 and work for achieving it before the deadline. IIT Kanpur will open a Centre of Excellence in Malaysia for IT professionals shortly,'' he remarked.

Mr. Sharma said that Mr.Najib expressed strong interest of his government and investors for collaboration in infrastructure and energy, especially renewable energy, and sought Indian assistance and expertise for electrification of rural areas in Malaysia. “The Prime Minister said that his country was keen to develop the knowledge based industry in partnership with India and sought greater movement of Indian specialists and professionals towards this end. I apprised him of the tremendous potential that India holds in the infrastructure sector which could availed of by Malaysian companies and sovereign investment funds,'' he remarked.

Delegation level talks

Earlier in the day Mr. Sharma held delegation level talks with Industry and Trade Minister Dato' Sri Mustapa Muhamed. Both agreed to conclude a balanced and ambitious agreement on CECA by the end of this year. Both Ministers also agreed that Indian and Malaysian companies should form joint ventures for taking up projects and investments in third countries. Mr. Sharma also met Minister for Transport Datuk Sri Kong Cho Ha and held discussions on various areas of collaboration.

On Thursday, Mr. Sharma will address a business conference, organised by Confederation of India Industry and its Malaysian counterpart, being attended by nearly 500 CEOs from Malaysia and India.

According to the CII, CECA will include trade, services, investments, and other areas, covering financial services, telecommunications, temporary movement of persons, information and communications technology and biotechnology.

Bilateral trade between two countries grew at an average growth rate of 23.7 per cent between 2004 and 2008 and it reached as high of $10.5 billion in 2008 just before the worst effects of the global financial crisis. However, in 2009, trade declined by 29 per cent and has shown a positive growth in the first quarter of 2010-11.

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