Minister of International Trade Y.B. Datuk Ignatius Darell Leiking, President of the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia Tan Sri Datuk Ter Leong Yap, CEO of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority Dato’ Azman Mahmud, Chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Park Yongmaan, and business leaders from Malaysia and Korea, good morning!
I chose Malaysia, a founding member and a leader of ASEAN, as the destination for my first overseas trip this year. I can truly see and feel how Malaysia has developed. Monorails traveling everywhere and urban skylines were lit up against the night sky. The country has posted rapid annual growth of over 5 percent on average and reached US$430 billion in trade. I could get a glimpse of the dynamism of Malaysia, the economic heart of Asia and the only ASEAN member state that boasts a per capita GDP above US$10,000 with a population exceeding 10 million.
According to a recent survey, Malaysia is the best investment destination in the world. I can fully appreciate the true meaning of “Malaysia Boleh (can).” Business leaders gathered here are the key players. I extend my respect and compliments to your endeavors.
Business leaders of Korea and Malaysia,
Next year will mark the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between our two countries. We have become like-minded friends through exchanges over the past 60 years. In 1957, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s founding father and first prime minister, loudly chanted “Merdeka” (independence) seven times in Merdeka Square. Koreans can deeply relate to the overwhelming excitement and emotions the Malaysian people likely experienced at that time. This is because Koreans, too, felt the same jubilation back in 1945.
In the 1960s, Malaysia offered us a grant which was used to build a bridge in Paju, north of Seoul, and named Malaysia-gyo to express appreciation. Some 20 years later, in contrast, a Korean company constructed the Penang Bridge in Malaysia. Bilateral people-to-people exchanges have also grown so vibrant that as many as one million people traveled back and forth between our two countries last year.
Malaysia and Korea are friends in need who have come to the aid of one another throughout our long history of exchanges. We are essential and crucial economic partners to each other. Among ASEAN member states, Malaysia is an important trading partner and investment destination for Korea. Many Korean businesses have a presence in Malaysia. Bilateral trade has steadily increased and approached US$20 billion last year. Notably, Kuala Lumpur's landmark Petronas Twin Towers symbolize economic cooperation between our two countries. They are iconic for Koreans as well and make them feel closer to Malaysia. Now I propose we take our cooperation a step further and together open the door to the future.
Distinguished business leaders,
I announced the ASEAN-ROK Future Community Vision immediately after my inauguration. I proposed working together to build a people-centered community of peace where everyone can prosper together. I intend to put relations between Korea and ASEAN members, including Malaysia, on par with those we have with the four major powers whose interests converge on the Korean Peninsula: China, Japan, Russia and the United States. The New Southern Policy of my Administration incorporates this intention.
The New Southern Policy shares a common denominator with the Look East Policy, which Prime Minister Mahathir began to pursue long ago. As the saying goes, it takes two hands to clap. I look forward to achieving a people-centered community of mutual prosperity together with Malaysia, a leading ASEAN member state and one of its five founding members.
Here in Kuala Lumpur, a city whose name literally means “confluence,” Malaysia's Look East Policy and Korea's New Southern Policy will merge to form a united, greater current. Economic cooperation between our two countries should bring benefits to both peoples and be pursued in a way to help us prosper together.
The first scheduled event of my visit to Malaysia brought me to the K-Wave and Halal Show. Halal-certified foods and cosmetics featuring the elements of Hallyu, or the Korean Wave, helped me sense the infinite potential of cooperation between our two countries.
Malaysia is a global halal market leader in name and substance. JAKIM, the world's only national halal certification system, is now in force in the country, and the Malaysian government is striving to foster the halal industry. As a result, Malaysia now boasts the world's most-accommodating halal environment.
Recently, halal-certified Daebak Ramen has been launched in Malaysia by a joint venture between Korean and Malaysian businesses. After gaining sensational popularity in Malaysia, this success story is being extended through exports back to Korea. In signing a memorandum of understanding to expand the halal industry, our two countries have reached an agreement to work together to jointly advance into the global halal market.
About 25 percent of the world's population is Muslim, and the global halal market is valued at over US$2 trillion. Malaysia is one of the most passionate members of ASEAN to embrace the Korean Wave.
If Korea's Hallyu and Malaysia's halal are combined, it will be possible for us to enter the huge global halal market together with enhanced competitiveness. In July this year, "K-town" will be established in the 1 Utama Shopping Centre. I hope it will become a platform to facilitate the successful Hallyu-halal combination.
Distinguished business leaders,
After launching the ASEAN Smart City Network last year, ASEAN member states are now accelerating the creation of smart cities. Korea is taking a lead in this sector; it has pursued a national project – the first of its kind in the world –
by designating two Korean cities as venues for pilot smart cities.
This year, Korea and Malaysia will jointly pursue the first smart city pilot project within ASEAN with Kota Kinabalu as a partner city. It is a good opportunity to demonstrate our two countries’ capacities and exemplary practices to other ASEAN member states planning to build smart cities.
Malaysia is the only ASEAN member with its own domestic automobile manufacturers. This is the result of Prime Minister Mahathir having long maintained a huge interest in the automobile industry. I heard that the country has been focusing recently on nurturing electric cars, self-driving vehicles and other examples of a future-oriented auto industry through its National Automotive Policy. I hope that our two countries’ joint research into electric vehicles will produce tangible results. If Malaysia’s National Automotive Policy and Korea’s advanced electric car and battery technologies are combined, this will create great synergy effects.
Our two countries are also committed to energy transition policies. Malaysia is striving to increase renewable energy’s share in its energy mix to 25 percent by 2025 while Korea is also working to raise its comparable figure to 20 percent by 2030. To this end, our two countries are pushing forward with virtual power plant and micro-grid testing projects. When Korea’s energy storage technology and Malaysia’s hydro and solar energy capabilities are combined, this will lead to a great test project for providing electricity to underdeveloped areas.
In addition, Korea will set up an IT cooperation center in Malaysia and pool strengths to nurture talented IT professionals. Companies from our two countries have provided tremendous impetus for bilateral economic cooperation by participating in the establishment of a virtual reality center and a factory for secondary battery core materials among others. On the occasion of this visit, our two countries agreed to start procedures for a Korea-Malaysia bilateral FTA. If a bilateral FTA is concluded quickly, it will serve as an opportunity to advance bilateral trade cooperation much further.
Distinguished business leaders from our two countries,
Prime Minister Mahathir said at the East Asia Summit last year that the military tension that gripped the Korean Peninsula in the past would disappear, expressing strong support for denuclearization and peace on the Peninsula. I express my gratitude once more. When denuclearization and permanent peace are achieved on the Korean Peninsula, the scope of bilateral economic cooperation will be further expanded. Many more opportunities will open up for you, business leaders.
There is a Malaysian proverb, “If it is light, we carry it together in our hands; if it is heavy, we carry it together on our shoulders.” If Korea and Malaysia work together, any hardship will become lighter. We will be able to achieve not only mutual prosperity for our two countries but also peace and prosperity for all of Asia. Let our two countries continue to help and learn from each other and move forward toward the future together.