Go to the ground, not board a plane - Rafidah Aziz tells govt
27 June 2022
Go to the ground, not board a plane! said former international trade and industry minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz who lambasted the government’s trade delegation to Peru and Mexico in the midst of an economic crisis.
She called it an ill-timed and ill-conceived trade delegation by the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) to countries that themselves are having economic problems.
“Why are we organising a trade delegation to countries that are having problems?
“Sit at home and do your work! Repair the leaks and damage,” said Rafidah, stressing that ministers should instead be going down to ground to speak to stakeholders, including investors in Malaysia.
“Turun padang, bukan naik kapal terbang! (get down to the ground, not board a plane!)”
Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong is currently leading a trade and investment mission to Mexico and Peru from June 26 to July 5.
It was reported that the mission is “part of MITI’s continuous effort to expand trade and investment opportunities in the Latin-American market.”
MITI, in a statement on June 23, said: “The trade and investment mission would be focusing on broad linkage opportunities as well as exploring new markets for our exports as part of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact.”
Rafidah said that as the economic crisis is threatening the country, there is a need for ministers to stay put, and fix the investment and economic problems.
“This current government has a penchant for overseas trips when its own house is not in order,” Rafidah said in remarks she sent via WhatsApp.
“There is no need to travel the world!” said Rafidah, who headed the ministry between 1987 and 2008 in what is regarded as among the golden years of the ministry, when she also navigated it through its toughest times.
Rafidah, 79, said the government should be having discussions with stakeholders in the country, not travelling to the ends of the world.
Last month, the International Monetary Fund approved a two-year loan arrangement for Peru for US$5.4 billion (RM23.8 billion) designed for crisis prevention.
Mexico, meanwhile, has lowered its growth forecast for 2023 from 2.4% to 2.2% due to supply chain disruptions among others.
Meanwhile, Lim is expected to have bilateral meetings with his counterparts in Mexico and Peru to discuss ways to further increase trade and investment cooperation between Malaysia and the countries.
The focus would be on Malaysia’s capabilities and capacities in strategic sectors, including electrical and electronics (E&E), electric vehicle segment, digital economy, and automotive industry.
Mexico is Malaysia’s second-largest trading partner in Latin America, which saw a two-fold increase in bilateral trade within the past decade.
Bernama reported that in 2021, Malaysia recorded a substantial increase in total trade with Mexico to reach RM13.89 billion compared to 2020, contributed by higher exports of E&E products and manufactures of metal.
Total exports in 2021 increased by 37.9% to RM11.59 billion, while total imports increased by 35.9% to RM2.3 billion compared with the year earlier.
In 2021, Peru was among Malaysia’s top six largest trading partners in Latin America.
Despite the decline in global trade caused by the pandemic, Malaysia recorded an increase of 13.5% in total trade with Peru compared with 2020, reaching RM1.22 billion. This was largely contributed by higher exports of rubber products, petroleum products, and processed food.
Malaysia’s exports to Peru increased by 21.8% to RM790 million, while imports from Peru were maintained at RM430 million compared to 2020. - The Vibes