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Dhaka Tribune

Malaysia keen to sign FTA, invites Bangladeshis for education, health

  • Malaysian envoy discusses the manpower issues
  • She states that they are working in 'good cooperation' with the Bangladeshi government
Update : 29 May 2024, 11:30 PM

Malaysia is keen to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Bangladesh to increase two-way trade and investment and urges Bangladeshis to explore the international standard of education and healthcare services in Kuala Lumpur.

High Commissioner Haznah Md Hashim made the call on Wednesday while interacting with the members of the Diplomatic Correspondents Association of Bangladesh (DCAB) at a city hotel in Dhaka.

The envoy also discussed the manpower issues and stated that they are working in "good cooperation" with the Bangladeshi government to guarantee jobs for all Bangladeshis traveling to Malaysia.

"We are committed to that,” she said, acknowledging that there might be syndicates that are beyond the control of both Bangladesh and Malaysian governments.

DCAB President Nurul Islam Hasib also spoke at the session and thanked the High Commission for hosting the discussion.

Malaysia was the first Muslim country in the world to recognize Bangladesh in January 1972, a month after the country’s birth.

Bangladesh is the 26th largest trading partner of Malaysia and also the 49th largest source of imports. The two-way trade stood at $2.78 billion last year, mostly Malaysia’s exports.

“Yes, it's more towards Malaysia, but positively, we should look into the trend of exports from Bangladesh. The volume of exports from Bangladesh to Malaysia was $330.3 million, which already increased from the previous year,” she said.

She said the FTA could be a “positive perspective” to deal with the trade imbalance because it brings market access to agricultural products.

“Now, agriculture products and garments are among the most important in terms of the products that we are importing from Bangladesh,” she said, adding that when Bangladesh graduates from the LDC, some of the privileges will be removed. “In terms of the LDC, you need to be more competitive. And in order to be more competitive in a very challenging market, you need to have this FTA,” she said, adding that the FTA would ensure a larger market in Malaysia.

“And when your goods enter Malaysia, it will also mean the whole Asean market because it's like the hub of Asean,” she said.

The envoy also presented the world-class health facilities and universities in Malaysia and urged Bangladeshis to explore those options.

“Malaysian health is cheaper than Thailand,” she said, as many Bangladeshis go to Thailand for treatment. There is strong monitoring by the government on the quality and cost of healthcare services in Malaysian hospitals."

She highlighted the opportunities in the education sector and said it is “affordable but quality education”.

"There is no issue of safety for foreign students, even female students are absolutely safe," she said.

“Also you will get halal food,” she told the Muslim majority of Bangladeshis.

On manpower issues, she said they are committed to making things better by the day.

“Of course there are things beyond our control. This is something beyond not only the Malaysian government but also beyond the control of the Bangladesh government," she said when asked about the syndicates.

She added that the deadline for Bangladeshi workers to reach Malaysia is May 31.

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