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Malaysian Trade Minister Avoids Questions on Sanctions on Burma

11 November 2010 – Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan was tightlipped when asked in the Parliament about the possibility of economic sanction on military-run Burmese government.

During the parliament session on 8 December, Jacob who was answering a question on Malaysia-Burma trade was asked about the probability of applying economic pressure on the largest southeast Asia mainland nation.

Jacob refused to answer the question on the ground that it is unrelated to his ministry as the matter is under the purview of Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Earlier, Jacob told the Lower House about the unbalanced trade relationship between Malaysia and Myanmar that totaled RM27.6 billion (USD 8.79 billion) in value for the period of 1990 until 2009.

Export value from Malaysia to Myanmar was RM22.6 billion (USD7.2 billion) while from Burma to Malaysia is RM5 billion (USD 1.59 billion).

“Among items exported by Malaysia to Myanmar were palm oil, chemical materials and products, petroleum, processed food and machine parts while major imports from Myanmar were natural rubber, vegetables and roots, seafood, timber and processed food,’’ he said.

Jacob said although Burma is an ASEAN member that is rich in natural resources, its trade with Malaysia was very limited.

The highest amount of bilateral trade recorded was in 2008, which was RM1.63 bilion (USD 519.6 million).

“Malaysian exports to Myanmar in 2009 was RM744 million (USD237.2 million) while imports from Myanmar was RM507 million (USD161.6 million),” Jacod said.

Malaysia was instrumental in admitting military-ruled Burma into the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1997.

By Thomas Chong

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