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Malaysian agriculture minister unaware of post-MH370 Chinese boycott

By RJ Whitehead , 15-Apr-2014

Malaysian agriculture minister unaware of post-MH370 Chinese boycott

The Malaysian government has agreed to form a special committee to study the economic impact on trade and investment with China following the disappearance of Flight MH370 last month.

At the same time, Malaysia’s Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry says it had not received any reports a boycott of Malaysian products in China. 

Chinese newspapers had earlier reported that the jetliner's disappearance en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur in March had sparked a campaign against Malaysian products in China.

"I have not received any report and, until today, our [agricultural] ties with China remain strong,” said the Malaysian agriculture minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Committee investigation

A new special committee to look into trade relations with China was approved by the Malaysian cabinet this week, and will be made up of the International Trade and Industry, Finance and Tourism ministries, as well as the government’s Economic Planning Unit.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said the move was strategic: “The economic impact committee will look into the overall current situation and formulate the best strategies, including communications, to ensure continuous investment and trade with China.”

He said the ministry so far has not seen any signs of decline in trade and investment activities involving China, except tourism, which suffered a significant impact due to the Chinese dissatisfaction following the MH370 tragedy.

According to the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade), bilateral business between Malaysia and China is expected to maintain a double-digit growth this year, boosted by active promotion and trade expo participation by both countries.

Over the past 10 years, overall bilateral trade between the two countries has been healthy with 10% average growth. Last year, Malaysia's total trade with China amounted to RM202bn (US$62bn), an increase of 12.5% compared to 2012.

Beef supply certain

Separately, Agriculture Minister Ismail Sabri set out to reassure Malaysian consumers that there will be no shortage of beef supply and quelled concern that the price of the meat would not increase. This follows a drop in the number of imported cattle to the country for slaughter.

"There is an adequate supply of frozen and fresh beef in the country to meet demand,” Ismail Sabri said, attributing the drop in cattle imports to aggressive purchasing by China from other southeast Asian producer countries.

He added: ”This is why it is important to look to other source countries, such as those in South America, to import cattle or frozen beef."

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