Speechs in the year
Oleh/By : DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD Tempat/Venue : BRASILIA Tarikh/Date : 01/07/91 Tajuk/Title : THE OFFICIAL DINNER HOSTED BY HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT FERNANDO COLLOR DE MELLO PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERATIVE REPUBLIC OF BRAZIL Your Excellency President Fernando Collor de Mello; Madame Collor; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and gentlemen, Permit me, first of all to thank you Mr. President for your kind invitation to visit Brazil officially and the warm welcome that has been extended to my wife and I and members of my delegation. We are very happy to have had the oppor- tunity to make this visit to your beautiful and huge coun- try. 2. Malaysia and Brazil are separated by vast geographical distances. This has been compounded by our historical expe- riences, our languages, cultures and religions. But on closer examination there are elements of similarity in our language and culture and in history. The first European to come to Malaysia were the Portuguese. To-day we still have a colony of people of Portuguese descend, and Portuguese dances, songs and words are now a part of the Malaysian cul- ture. Still our two countries are far apart and have had little contact. We must hasten to correct this and to lay firm foundations on which we could build a meaningful re- lationship beneficial to both countries. 3. Our bilateral trade, even though small, has been in- creasing steadily over the past few years. There is no doubt that there exists potentials and possibilities for further growth. The business community and Chambers of Com- merce in both Malaysia and Brazil have a major role to play in exploring and establishing trading and investment links which would bring direct benefits to both our countries. It is for this reason that I have brought with me a big group of Malaysian businessmen who are keenly interested in devel- oping business ties with Brazil. I am hopeful that the con- tacts they will establish here will help accelerate the pace of cooperation not only between Malaysia and Brazil but also between Brazil, and Southeast and East Asia. Malaysia is ready and well equipped to be the conduit to facilitate Brazil's trade with the rapidly growing region in East and South East Asia. 4. The one problem which always arises when the discussion centres on trade and investment opportunities, not only be- tween Malaysia and Brazil, but also between South East Asia and Latin America, is the lack of adequate shipping and air- links between our two regions. This is a major drawback to our efforts to bring us closer together. Yet the distance between Latin America and East Asia is not greater than those between Europe and East Asia and North America and East Asia. We must overcome this psychological barrier and apply our minds and energy towards overcoming this problem. The matter concerns not only the Governments of the two re- gions but also the private sectors. Joint efforts are nec- essary if we are to make any progress. The sooner we begin addressing this problem, the better it would be for all of us. 5. Malaysia and Brazil have consistently spoken out against the unfair trade practices of the developed coun- tries which discriminate against our products, preventing access to their markets. We have also spoken out against the unfair and unstable prices we are getting for our pri- mary products. We have also been subjected to economic pressures for alleged environmental crimes. 6. Cooperation amongst developing countries is therefore all the more vital now. We should not cut ourselves off from the North. But since the North can find markets in the South and exploit them, surely the countries of the South too can have access to the same markets for our mutual bene- fit. While we can form regional groupings in order to be more competitive and to help each other grow, we must con- tinue to keep trade free, for only through trade can we hope to grow rapidly enough to catch up with the developed coun- tries. Jointly the countries of the South can uphold free trade and halt the slide towards protectionism in the North. Your Excellency, 7. The developing countries have been exploited in the past precisely because of the lack of unity and cooperation amongst us. We cannot let history repeat itself. That is why Malaysia has been emphasising the urgent need for South- South Cooperation. This is not to suggest a confrontative approach -- that we take on the developed countries from the North. Malaysia remains convinced that a healthy North- South trading environment remains the best scenario for total world trade to grow. But in the meantime, South-South cooperation and trading arrangements must be explored and exploited. We firmly believe that South-South Cooperation, in particular its trade component, has tremendous poten- tials if we collectively put our minds to it. The G-15 is one vehicle to energise South-South Cooperation, not only in trade, but also in in- vestments, in stimulating greater financial flows and their related services and in promoting relevant technology ex- changes. I believe we have only just begun tapping the sur- face potentials in South-South Cooperation. With greater diligence and sustained efforts, we can realise fully the fruits of South-South collaboration. Let us remember that the massive trade we now have with the North began in a small way. Just as that trade grew so can trade between the South grow. Your Excellency, 8. Once again I thank you and the Government of Brazil most sincerely for having made our visit such a happy and enjoyable one. I hope that Your Excellency will have the occasion to visit Malaysia sometime in the future so that we can continue the discussions we have had in Brasilia, and to enable me to reciprocate the warm hospitality you have so generously lavished on us. Ladies and gentlemen, 9. May I now invite you to join me in a toast to the good health of His Excellency Fernando Collor de Mello, President of Brazil, to the government and people of Brazil and to the friendly relations between Malaysia and Brazil. Thank you.