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India, Malaysia to conduct trade in national currencies; Kuala Lumpur looking at accepting RuPay, UPI service: Malaysian foreign minister

The Malaysian foreign minister said Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is likely to visit India in the first half of next year in reflection of growing upswing in overall ties between the two nations

PTI New Delhi Published 08.11.23, 06:42 PM
Representational picture.

Representational picture. File picture

India and Malaysia are firming up a framework for conducting trade in national currencies and initiating a process to review the 12-year-old comprehensive economic cooperation agreement to include new domains and items, Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir said.

At the end of a three-day visit to India, Kadir told PTI that Malaysia is also in the process of accepting India's Unified Payments Interface (UPI) system and RuPay payment service that will boost overall financial engagement.

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The Malaysian foreign minister said Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is likely to visit India in the first half of next year in reflection of growing upswing in overall ties between the two nations.

He said both sides are keen to expand trade engagement in new and emerging areas such as electronics, semiconductors, fintech, renewable energy, new technology and startups besides joining hands in defence industrial cooperation.

Ways to further boost the overall trajectory of ties were discussed extensively during his talks with External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar last night.

Asked about India's long-pending demand to Malaysia to extradite fugitive evangelist Zakir Naik, Kadir did not give a direct reply and said Kuala Lumpur is keen on strengthening institutional mechanisms to boost security cooperation rather than focusing on any individual.

Naik is facing a multi-agency probe in India on a variety of charges including terror-related activities and inciting extremism through hate speeches. He left India in 2016.

Kadir also expressed Malaysia's gratitude to India for providing 170,000 metric tonnes of non-basmati white rice recently when the country was reeling under shortage of rice.

India banned export of non-basmati white rice in July, but the restriction was lifted for a small number of countries last month.

To a question on escalating tensions in South China Sea in view of China's increasing assertiveness, Kadir said Malaysia and other member nations of the ASEAN do not want to allow this region to become a "flashpoint" and an area for "big power" competition.

Listing various measures to expand India-Malaysia bilateral trade, he said both sides are finalising the framework for conducting trade in national currencies.

"We want to use it and both the countries can benefit from it. We think such a move will strengthen the local currencies," he said late on Tuesday night.

India is in talks with a number of partner countries to develop alternative arrangements for trade settlements in national currencies in addition to the existing system of using freely convertible currencies like the US dollar.

The Malaysian foreign minister also said that he and Jaishankar discussed the need for having a re-look at the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) that came into effect in July, 2011.

"We feel there is a need to have a re-look at it to include new areas of trade like the digital economy and other emerging areas," Kadir said.

The CECA covers trade in goods, services, investments and movement of people.

The Malaysian foreign minister also said that his country is interested to expand defence cooperation with India including procuring military platforms and hardware.

"We are keen on having defence industrial cooperation," he said.

In July, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited Kuala Lumpur during which both sides approved an amendment in the memorandum of understanding on India-Malaysia defence cooperation signed in 1993.

The defence ministry had said that the amendment will act as an "enabler" to expand bilateral defence cooperation in the areas of mutual interest.

Malaysia was among a handful of countries that showed keen interest in procuring India's indigenously developed Tejas aircraft.

To a question on whether Malaysia is keen to procure BrahMos supersonic missiles from India, Kadir declined to comment but said concerned ministries of the two sides will look into all relevant issues for deepening the defence ties.

Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.

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