India, Malaysia ink six pacts to take bilateral ties forward
Kuala Lumpur, Oct. 27 (ANI): India and Malaysia on Wednesday signed six bilateral agreements with the objective of taking their exisiting bilateral ties to new heights.
Significantly, among the agreements signed was one to implement a bilateral Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), which was signed the Commerce and Industry Ministers of the two countries -- Anand Sharma for India and Mustapa Mohamed for Malaysia.
The finalisation of the CECA between India and Malaysia comes after several rounds of discussions and meetings dating back to March 2005.
According to a synopsis provided by the Ministry of External Affairs, a Joint Study Group was constituted in March 2005 by India and Malaysia, comprising government officials and economists to examine the feasibility of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the two countries.
The Study Group submitted its report in January 2007, recommending a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) between India and Malaysia. The report was adopted by both governments by launching CECA negotiations in February 2008. The negotiations were concluded in September 2010 with both sides agreeing on the texts of the CECA which include Trade in goods, trade in services, investment and other areas of economic cooperation.
Both sides agreed that the CECA would be signed as a single undertaking.
Taking into account the India-ASEAN Trade in Goods (TiG) Agreement that was implemented with effect from January 1, 2010 between India and Malaysia, both sides have offered 'ASEAN plus' market access in goods.
In trade in services, both sides agreed on providing access of each others' services market across all modes and various sectors.
It was also agreed that India and Malaysia would liberalise their respective investment regimes to facilitate greater foreign direct investment (FDI) into each other's territory.
Both sides would also finalise two or three other areas of economic cooperation from among infrastructure development, creative industries, tourism, SMEs, business facilitation, science and technology, and human resource development.
The CECA was signed in the presence of the Prime Ministers of India and Malaysia.
Both sides will now prepare all the schedules and take up legal scrubbing of texts in November. The CECA is to be signed by January 31, 2011 and to be implemented from July 1, 2011.
The second agreement signed between the two sides was a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for cooperation in the field of traditional systems of medicine.
The agreement was signed by India's Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma and Malaysian Health Minister Liow Tiong.
Under the MoU, India and Malaysia will identify further areas of co-operation for promotion of traditional medicine, including the regulation of teaching, practice, drugs and drugless therapies; accommodating interested practitioners, paramedics, students and institutions in educational training programmes on traditional systems of medicine.
It was also agreed that institutions in both countries would work towards mutual recognition of Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha Pharmacopoea of India and the Malaysian Herbal Pharmacopoea.
The MOU also envisages exchange of experts for training of practitioners, paramedics, scientists, teachers and students in traditional systems of medicine. Both governments would also encourage relevant institutions to exchange medicinal materials and documents necessary for administration and reference for greater understanding and usage.
India will be the second country with which Malaysia would be signing an MOU in traditional systems of medicine.
The MOU is expected to guide already existing rudimentary cooperation in a more focused manner and also streamline the existing practices in traditional systems of medicine to higher levels of acceptance by people in the two countries.
Both countries also agreed bilateral cooperation in the field of tourism. An MoU to this effect was signed by Latha Reddy, Secretary (East) in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Dr. Ong Hong Peng, Secretary General, Ministry of Tourism, Malaysia.
Both sides felt that since tourist flows between India and Malaysia have been increasing in the recent years in a significant manner, steps should be taken to exploit existing tourism potential in the two countries.
India is now the sixth largest source country for inbound tourism to Malaysia with about 600,000 Indian tourists visiting Malaysia in 2009, an increase of nine percent over figures of 2008.
Malaysia is the tenth largest source country for foreign tourists visiting India with 115,794 Malaysians visiting India in 2008.
The trend is expected to continue in view of the improved connectivity between the two countries with the introduction of budget airlines from Malaysia such as AirAsia.
The MOU is expected to further enhance the existing level of cooperation in the sector. The areas of cooperation envisaged under the MOU include research and development, training, greater exchange of promotional and publicity materials, investments and organizing meetings, conventions and travel mart/trade fairs etc. between the two countries.
The MOU would remain in force for a period of five years and thereafter it would be automatically extended for a further period of five years.
India and Malaysia have also agreed to enhancing cooperation in information technology and services. An MoU to this effect was signed by Latha Reddy, Secretary (East) in the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and Madinah Mohamad, Secretary General, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Malaysia.
The areas of cooperation envisaged in the MOU include electronic-commerce, multimedia development, electronic-governance, information security, cyber crime, human resource development, research, design and development and exploring third country markets and any other areas of cooperation of mutual interest to both the countries. The MOU shall enter into force from the date of signing and would remain in force for a period of five years.
Separately, the Prime Ministers of India and Malaysia are also expected to announce setting up of a Joint ICT Talent Development Consultative Committee (JICTDCC) involving stakeholders from both the governments, relevant agencies, industry players and training institutions to make specific recommendations to both the governments for IT skills training, talent development and greater engagement of Indian IT Companies in Malaysia.
A fifth agreement was signed between the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India and UNIK of Malaysia on research and development collaboration.
Vijay Gokhale, India's High Commissioner to Malaysia and Dr. Kamal Jit Singh, Chief Executive Officer, Special Innovation Unit of the Malaysian Prime Minister's Office, signed the MoU.
The agreement envisages establishment of a Joint Innovation Accelerator Centre in Malaysia to carry out research on areas of mutual interest such as green technology, water treatment, medicinal and aromatic plants and also includes other innovative technologies.
It also encourages transfer of knowledge; exchange of experts, scientists and researchers; production of joint reports of publications; and study visits relating to the projects and programme to be undertaken by the Joint Innovation Accelerator Centre.
Both CSIR and UNIK will also explore and develop the use of herbs, plants, flowers and fruits for medicinal in Malaysia and aromatic purposes by way of extraction techniques, processes and methodologies.
UNIK has been set up in 2010 in the Prime Minister's Department to enable it emerge as an important focal point for innovation in the country. CSIR, a premier scientific and industrial research organization in India, would share its knowledge and expertise for mutual benefit.
A final agreement was signed between the two sides for enhancing cultural exchanges between the two countries.
This was signed by India's High Commissioner to Malaysia, Vijay Gokhale, and Wira Kamaruddin Siaraf, Secretary General in the Malaysian Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture.
The Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) stems from the Cultural Agreement signed between India and Malaysia in 1978.
It envisages an exchange of cultural delegations at the ministerial and official levels.
In addition, it provides for exchange of performing arts troupes, visual arts, organization of art exhibitions in each others' countries, participation in international cultural and artistic activities held in each others' countries.
It also encourages cooperation by way of exchange of visits between archaeological institutions, museums and archives establishments of the two countries.
It also has a component of training of personnel in archives and also participation of scholars and experts in international academic conferences held in other countries. The CEP would provide a more focused attention in a number of areas mentioned above. (ANI)
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