Almotamar.net Bermana - KUALA LUMPUR, May 11 (Bernama) -- Commercial exchange between Malaysia and Yemen is set to grow from the current relatively limited volume as their joint economic trade committee is making headway to unlock business potentials available in both countries.
The committee will hold its first meeting in Sana'a, Yemen, in December this year.
Topping the inaugural meeting agenda is the need to push for partnerships in various economic fields and to resolve trade issues that may impede trade and investment such as those in relation to maritime and customs.
Yemen's Industry and Trade Minister Yahya Y. Al-Mutawakel said he believed the economic forum could facilitate in enhancing trade and investment relations between his country and Malaysia.
Although bilateral trade between the two countries had progressed over the years, there was however room for improvement, he said.
"Definitely, the objective of the committee is to enhance trade between Yemen and Malaysia. We need to address issues that impede trade between us," he told Bernama in an interview here in conjunction with his visit to Malaysia.
Yahya is leading a delegation of 22 businessmen to Kuala Lumpur for three days from May 8.
He held a meeting with his Malaysian counterpart, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, on Wednesday.
Total trade between Yemen and Malaysia amounted to US$312 million (US$1=RM3.40) last year with exports valued at US$260.2 million and imports at US$51.8 million.
Yahya said there were abundant opportunities that could be tapped in Yemen, especially in the country's booming oil and gas, and mineral industries.
"Yes, there are Malaysian companies that have signed for mineral (projects in Yemen) but this should not be the end as there are still opportunities for others to follow suit. Definitely, there are plenty of opportunities," he said.
"It has not really (fully) explored yet. The exploration (now) is less than 20 percent," he added.
Malaysian investments in Yemen to date totalled RM51 million, mainly in mining and quarrying activities.
Among the Malaysian companies operating in Yemen are Muhibbah Engineering in the construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant and Pensonic in the sales of Malaysian-made electrical products.
Yahya said there were export opportunities for Malaysia to Yemen, especially in electrical appliances and computers to support the country's "new and booming economy" environment.
"We see a considerable increase in users of computers, not only by the business community but also in education as well as in supporting e-government," he said.
Yahya said the upcoming joint economic trade committee meeting should entail "full members" and not confined to top trade and industry officials from both countries.
He said since there were pressing issues up for discussions such as maritime and customs tariffs, the meeting should also involve top officials from relevant agencies such as customs, transport, taxation and finance.
He also said that businessmen had raised concerns over rising shipping costs that could impede trade flow between Yemen and Malaysia due to the heavy reliance on sea transportation.
Major exports from Malaysia to Yemen last year were iron and steel products, palm oil, wood products and processed food while imports from Yemen were mostly crude petroleum, seafood and metal products.