Malaysia to emulate Korea’s economic model.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said that his country is seeking to take its cue from South Korea to make its economy more „productive and innovative”.

In a recent interview with The Korea Times, Razak said that he is keeping a close watch on Korea’s economic development to see how Korea has been in transition toward a knowledge-based, high value-added economy. „We take great interest in and are closely following the development of your creative economy model, with continued innovation serving as the backbone of Korea’s economy,” he said. „We hope to learn from Korea in this respect.” Razak’s zeal for emulating Korea’s economic model is based on his three principles that have underpinned the development of Malaysia’s economy ― sustainability, inclusivity and innovation. „A sustainable economy is one in which we take care of our environment while developing the country,” he said. „Inclusivity is ensuring our people have the right skills by investing in training.” According to him, as Malaysia is strengthening its knowledge-based sector, the country has to reduce its dependency on foreign labor and focus on raising the level of education and skills in its country, so that growth and higher wages come from increases in productivity. „Lastly, we are trying to introduce a real focus not just on innovation, but on commercializing innovation,” he said. Rajak, who took office in 2009, said that the relations between Korea and Malaysia will be further enhanced in the coming decades on the back of strengthening business cooperation. „We are pleased with the significant role played by investors from Malaysia and Korea in enhancing the economic cooperation between both nations,” he said. In particular, Rajak, who has made two official visits to Korea in April 2011 and December 2014, believes that education exchanges will provide the impetus for the further development of the ties. 

During his first visit, he signed an accord on cooperation in basic and higher education. On his second visit, he agreed to introduce the Korean language as one of the foreign languages in Malaysian schools and promote a teacher exchange program. „Korea remains one of the main destinations for Malaysian students to pursue their studies, particularly in engineering programs such as aerospace, architecture, biochemistry, electric and electronic. „These are our ambassadors for the future and they give me great confidence that the ties between our two countries will continue to grow.” Currently, there are more than 3,500 Korean students studying in Malaysia, while more than 600 Malaysian students are pursuing their studies in Korea. 

Korea’s role in AEC integration 

Rajak stressed that Korea should play an important role in the integration of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) officially launched at the end of 2015.”In order for the AEC to truly succeed, it has to have strong global links, and Korea is ideally placed to benefit from this desire on our part to engage and build closer economic relations with other countries in Asia and beyond,” he said. He pointed out that the AEC and the ASEAN-Korea free trade agreements (FTA) provide the most valuable platform for businesses to strengthen economic relations. „Under the FTA, tariffs have been substantially eliminated, and further liberalization of trade is being considered as part of the upgrade of the ASEAN-Korea FTA,” he said. „These trade initiatives have also contributed to expansion of two-way trade and investment relations.” In particular, the prime minister called for Korea’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to invest more in the ASEAN region, which he believes will help achieve the bilateral trade target of $200 billion by 2020 as agreed by the ASEAN-Korea summit in 2014 „SMEs can play a major role in this, and Korean small businesses are ideally placed to invest in ASEAN as they seek to produce for the global market,” he said. „I can tell you that in Malaysia, we are committed to working with these businesses and hope to attract them in ever greater numbers in the coming years.” He also said that the ASEAN-Korea Centre should play a part in boosting bilateral cooperation through exchanges in various areas, including culture. „I am happy to note that the center is embarking on many activities in 2016, and over the next few years, which include focusing on the youth from ASEAN and Korea,” he added. „I am confident that all of these initiatives will lead to a further strengthening of relations.

Population: 30,949,962 (July 2016 est.)

Internet user’s: total: 21.684 million, percent of population: 71.1% (July 2015 est.)

Exchange rate: ringgits (MYR) per US dollar – 3.902 (2015 est.), 3.27 (2014 est.), 3.27 (2013 est.), 3.09 (2012 est.), 3.06 (2011 est.)

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