Malaysia has announced that it will pursue free trade agreement (FTA) talks with Iran as part of efforts to expand bilateral trade ties between Tehran and Kuala Lumpur.
"We will visit Iran towards the end of January next year and will try to negotiate for more Malaysian products to be brought into the country,” Malaysia’s Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong was quoted by the Star Online as saying on Friday.
The Malaysian official described Iran as an important country in the Middle East, and said clinching a bilateral FTA with Iran "would allow Malaysia to gain a first-mover advantage.”
He also described the FTA as "a good move” that would provide "a huge opportunity” for exporting Malaysian products, particularly rubber and palm oil, to get into Iran’s market.
Earlier this month, Malaysia’s Minister of International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Tehran- Kuala Lumpur trade volume stood at USD700 million in 2015.
"In terms of bilateral trade, the volume has been small, about USD 700 million (RM3.14 billion) in 2015 but we hope, since the sanctions have been lifted, to boost Malaysian exports (to Iran) especially palm oil,” he noted.
Iranian and Malaysian officials have already unveiled plans for doubling the level of trade exchanges between the two countries.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, during his visit to Malaysia in October, announced that Iran and Malaysia are resolved to restore their bilateral relations to pre-sanctions levels and double trade exchange volume.