27 July 2005
South Africa and Malaysia are to establish a joint working committee to expand trade and investment between the two countries.
The committee, which will meet in Malaysia at the end of the 2005, will facilitate trade between all strategic sectors of the two economies.
Trade and Industry Minister Mandisa Mphahlwa says these sectors will include agriculture, tourism, science and technology as well as the automotive industries – a particularly promising area, with Malaysia aiming to become the automotive hub of the region.
“We are talking about a huge demand of about 500 million people, and as a major exporter of automotives, we think establishing that kind of relationship could give us a wider market,” Mphahlwa says.
The decision to set up the committee comes as Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his delegation are visiting South Africa.
The Prime Minister held political and economic discussions with President Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria on Tuesday.
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel and Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Rafidah Aziz signed an agreement on avoidance of double taxation.
Manuel said the deal means that South African companies investing in Malaysia will not be taxed twice. “Malaysian companies that invest in SA will be taxed in Malaysia and South African companies that invest in Malaysia will be taxed here,” Manuel said.
“And so, it’s just ensuring that in either case the government will get its fair share of the taxation deal.”
While the leaders of the two countries urged increased level of investment between the two countries, Mbeki said South Africa and the whole continent had much to learn from Asia in addressing issues of economic growth and alleviating poverty.
“It’s clear that with regards to responding to the many challenges, there’s a great deal that the African continent can learn from the Asian continent,” Mbeki said, citing Malaysia’s success in ensuring the growth of its economy after the crisis that the country experienced in 1997.
“I think the Asia-Africa Partnership Forum increases the possibility of us to draw from the successes of Asia with regards to managing the economy, addressing issues of poverty, modernisation, and managing democratic processes.”