By Jelly Musico
MANILA – Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Tuesday left for a state visit to Malaysia upon the “gracious” invitation of Malaysian King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah to harness the potentials of a revitalized relationship between the two countries.
“Building on past successes, visit to Malaysia aims to identify new areas of synergy that can propel our partnership and served as a roadmap for our respective agencies to work on for the mutual benefit of both our countries and peoples of the new century,” Marcos said in his departure speech at the Maharlika Hall of Villamor Air Base in Pasay City.
During his state visit from July 25 to 27, Marcos said he will have an audience with the king of Malaysia to discuss how the two countries can further deepen their partnership “through new areas of mutual interest.”
He will also have a bilateral meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim “to pursue areas of cooperation and our agreed priority areas that are aligned with our countries’ respective economic agendas.”
“In order to assist our nation’s trajectory of economic growth and to meet our economic target of 6.4 percent year-on-year GDP growth this year, my visit will focus on the renewed partnership in the fields of agriculture, food and security, digital economy, tourism, people to people as well as explore new avenues for cooperation, particularly in areas of the halal industry and Islamic banking,” Marcos said.
The “halal” industry, he said, is expected to grow into a trillion-dollar industry in the international market as its global demand continues to expand.
“Malaysia is one of the global leaders in this sector and this visit aims to forge synergy with Malaysia for the Philippines to enjoy a share of this market,” he added.
He said he will also be meeting with Malaysian business leaders to showcase the Philippines’ trade and investment opportunities.
“I hope that through the investment forum, round table discussions and business meetings organized by the Department of Trade and Industry, we will build new bridges between our economies and create inroads to new ventures that will see our bilateral volumes and investment increase,” he said.
He will also meet the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur “to personally show the nation’s care and protection and reassure them that the government is continuously working to ensure their safety and wellbeing.”
“It is also my belief that through investments we bring in from foreign visit, soon our kababayans (countrymen) will no longer be forced to work abroad but will have a choice to come home and find suitable works in the Philippines so that they maybe be reunited with their families,” he said.
“I am optimistic that this state visit will nurture the foundation of revitalized and stronger Philippines-Malaysia cooperation ahead of celebration of our six decades of formal diplomatic relations in 2024,” he added.
Marcos was accompanied by First Lady Louise Araneta-Marcos, key Cabinet officials, the country’s economic team and a business delegation.
Malaysia is ranked as the Philippines’ 10th trading partner and 22nd source of approved investments in 2022.
It also ranks 20th in terms of source of tourist arrivals in 2023. (PNA)