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Oleh/By		:	DATO' SERI DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD 
Tempat/Venue	: 	LAOS 
Tarikh/Date 	: 	17/04/94 
Tajuk/Title  	: 	THE JOINT BUSINESSMEN MEETING 
			IN LAOS 



 Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
    I  am happy to be here today to have the opportunity to
address this distinguished gathering of Laotian business and
industry  leaders.    I  commend  the  organisers  for   the
initiative  to hold this function in order to bring together
like-minded business leaders of our two countries to discuss
issues of common concern  and  interest  so  as  to  further
strengthen bilateral cooperation.
2.    Although Malaysian companies have invested in logging,
road construction and hotel renovation,  the  value  of  the
investments  is not substantial.  The value of our bilateral
trade is small.  Total trade only amounted to US$1.0 million
in 1993.
3.    However, I am  confident  that  there  is  significant
potential  to  expand  the scope of our cooperation based on
positive factors which can contribute to the development  of
a conducive environment for the promotion of business.
4.             The current low level of economic cooperation
is  attributed,  among  other things, to the narrow range of
products currently being traded and the lack of contacts and
information concerning the market opportunities.    Yet,  we
know that immense opportunities exist for business deals for
the  private sectors of both countries, especially in trade,
investments, and services.
5.   It is with this in mind that I have brought with  me  a
trade and investment delegation comprising leading Malaysian
businessmen  and  entrepreneurs to establish contacts and to
interact with their counterparts here.
6.   I am certain that arising from these  discussions,  the
business communities of both countries can identify areas of
mutual  interests  in  diverse  economic  sectors  for joint
investments.
7.   Malaysia is an important market for imports.  In  1993,
total  imports  amounted to US$45 billion.  According to the
GATT 1993 International Trade Report, Malaysia was the  19th
largest import market in the world.  Given the rapid pace of
economic  growth, liberal import policies and the increasing
affluence  of  the  population,  the  Malaysian  market   is
expected  to  grow  in  importance for products from foreign
suppliers.
8.    Therefore, market prospects for Laotian  products  are
good,   particularly   for  agricultural  products,  primary
commodities and intermediate products.   In this  regard,  I
wish to invite your exporters to come to Malaysia to see for
yourselves   the   vast  opportunities  available  for  your
products and to strengthen contacts with our  buyers.    Our
business  community will be prepared I am sure to give their
full cooperation to Laotian suppliers looking for  a  market
for their products.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
9.      In  return,  Malaysia  can  offer  a  wide  range of
manufactured products at competitive prices.  These  include
processed  food, consumer products, building materials, etc.
In 1993, Malaysia exported manufactured goods valued at  US$
34  billion.    This  accounted  for  73  per  cent of total
exports.  Many of these products have  market  potential  in
Laos.
10.   In foreign relations, Malaysia accords much importance
to strengthening linkages with the countries of  the  South.
Malaysia  has  acquired  experience  and  knowledge  in  the
management and development of its economy.   We should  have
some  expertise  to  share  with Laos in its efforts towards
economic development.
11.  In addition, Malaysian companies  have  the  experience
and  the know-how to participate actively in the development
of  the  Laotian  mining,  timber   extraction,   plantation
management,   downstream   processing  of  agricultural  and
mineral and natural resource sectors  and  in  the  services
industry   such   as   finance,   engineering   consultancy,
construction,    development    of    infrastructure     and
tourism-related   projects.    Our  companies  have  a  good
performance record  with  their  operations  in  many  South
countries.  I am sure that these companies can make positive
contributions towards the development of Laos.
12.   1 am pleased to note that some Malaysian companies are
already operating in Laos on a joint venture  basis.    Such
collaborative  efforts,  albeit at a modest level, is a step
in  the  right  direction  to  enhance  trade  and  economic
relations  between  our two countries.   I am confident that
Malaysian companies will intensify  their  participation  in
the  Laotian economy as they widen their contacts, establish
better understanding of the opportunities available and gain
more confidence through their exposure and experience.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
13.  To facilitate cooperation with Laos, the Government  of
both  countries  have  put  in place the necessary framework
agreements for commercial relations.  They include:
    -         Investment Guarantee Agreement,
    -         Economic, Scientific and Technical Cooperation
              Agreement; and
    -         Air Services Agreement.
Our two Governments will continue to strengthen the existing
institutional  arrangements,  where   necessary,   to   give
confidence  to the private sector to undertake business on a
sustained basis.
14.  Malaysia has an open economy in which foreign trade and
investments assume an important role.  Malaysia is therefore
committed to an open and liberal global trading system which
would help to promote international trade.   Apart from  its
commitment  to  the  multilateral  trading  system, Malaysia
recognises the importance of regional cooperation to promote
growth  and  help  to  reinforce  the  multilateral  trading
system.
15.  Malaysia is a member of ASEAN and participates actively
in  all  its programmes.  ASEAN is committed to establishing
the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), a market  of  320  million
people,  by the year 2008.  The mechanism to achieve AFTA is
the CEPT (Common Effective Preferential Tariff) under  which
the  tariff  level  will be reduced progressively to between
zero and five per cent within a  fixed  timeframe  beginning
from January this year.
16.     AFTA  will  be  an  important  mechanism  to  expand
intra-regional   trade   and   stimulate   rapid    economic
development  in  member  countries.    In  the  process, new
opportunities will be created  for  the  business  community
within  and  outside the region.   In this regard, there are
certainly areas for cooperation between Laotian
and Malaysian businessmen wishing to take advantage of these
opportunities.
17.  The steady high growth rates registered by ASEAN in the
past are also matched by  those  achieved  by  many  of  the
dynamic  economies of East Asia.  In addition to ASEAN, East
Asia has evolved into a vibrant manufacturing and commercial
area.   This has benefitted regional  trade  and  investment
flows thereby reinforcing further the interdependence of the
East Asian economies.
18.    The  intensification  of cooperation within East Asia
would help to stimulate production, trade and other  related
economic  activities.   Towards this end, ASEAN and the East
Asia  Economic  Caucus  or  EAEC  are  relevant  to  Laotian
economic  interests  considering  that  it  is  a  member of
Southeast Asia and developments in  the  region  would  have
stimulative  effects on its economy.  As the economy of Laos
develops, I am certain that her linkages with the  economies
of ASEAN and East Asia will strengthen and her contributions
to the development of the region will increase.
19.    The  visit  of  my  delegation here today is aimed at
enhancing bilateral ties.   With the support  given  by  the
government  of both countries to this effort, I am confident
that our businessmen will succeed in  forging  new  business
ties to intensify current bilateral economic cooperation.

 
 



 
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