India, Malaysia announce comprehensive economic pact

Putrajaya, Oct 27 (IANS) India and Malaysia Wednesday announced the conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA), saying it would take the bilateral engagement to new heights.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Tun Razak said the agreement will be signed by Jan 31, 2011, and come into force July 1.

Razak said the two countries had concluded ‘very productive’ bilateral discussions.

He told a joint news conference that when he visited New Delhi in January this year, his desire was to make Manmohan Singh’s return trip ‘equally significant and historic’.

He called CECA a corner stone of India-Malaysia relations and said this will unleash tremendous potential in trade, investment and other economic linkages.

The Malaysian leader described himself as a great admirer of Manmohan Singh for ‘transforming India into an economic powerhouse’.

He said they also discussed military cooperation, maritime security, terrorism, higher education, and visa issues.

Manmohan Singh said his discussions in Malaysia had laid the basis for a multifaceted partnership between the two countries.

He said CECA ‘will transform our economic engagement in a very substantive way’.

The discussions between the two leaders, he said, had laid the basis for a ‘multi-faceted partnership between India and Malaysia’.

They had agreed to work closely on a gamut of issues including on ways to battle terrorism.

Later, while delivering the Khazanah Global Lecture, the prime minister said disarmingly: ‘I have spoken today about many things that bring us together and that can continue to keep us together. Indeed, there is no issue that divides us at present.’

India and Malaysia also signed six agreements – freezing the CECA agreement, traditional medicine, cooperation in IT and services, cooperation in tourism, cultural exchange programme and a pact with India’s Centre for Science and Industrial Research (CSIR) on research and development.

The agreements were signed in the presence of the two leaders by Commerce Minister Anand Sharma and Secretary (East) Lata Reddy from the Indian side.

Manmohan Singh arrived here Tuesday on the second leg of a three-nation Asia tour that has already taken him to Japan. He leaves here Thursday for Vietnam where he will take part in the India-ASEAN Summit and the East Asia Summit.

(Minu Jain can be contacted at minu.jain@ians.in)

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