Last year in Malaysia drove economic and trade mission of the Ministry of economic development and trade of Ukraine. What are the results of this visit?
In the process of the talks, the sides signed several agreements and discussed the issues of cooperation in five areas. Now we continue negotiations on cooperation in these areas.
For example, we have already managed to achieve certain results on the question of the visa regime for citizens of Malaysia. Previously, the Malaysians were supposed to apply for a visa at the diplomatic representation of Ukraine in Malaysia, and now you can get them on arrival in the country — at the airport. As for the Ukrainians, they can stay in Malaysia for tourism purpose for 30 days without a visa.
As far as the visa regime affects the interest of the Malaysian business in Ukraine?
Of course some of this is important. But the most important for our entrepreneurs is the question, will they be able to get the expected ROI from their business initiatives in Ukraine, in both the long and short term.
You said that the negotiations with the Ukrainian delegation in Malaysia was focused on five main blocks. Tell us in more detail.
It was, as I mentioned, on the simplification of the visa regime for our citizens, on cooperation in the fields of infrastructure, defence and education. Was also concluded a Treaty on mutual legal assistance and extradition. In addition, negotiations resulted in the establishment of the joint Ukrainian-Malaysian trade Commission.
One example of cooperation in the field of infrastructure development is the management and maintenance of the airport “Borispol”.
As for cooperation in defense industry, during the visit of President Petro Poroshenko in Malaysia in 2016, has held talks about a possible cooperation in military technology between the Ministry of defence of Malaysia and the state company “Ukroboronprom.”
If we talk about specific statistics, the agreement on cooperation in the framework of the above-mentioned industries are still in the negotiation stage. For its part, the Embassy is actively sharing information with Malaysian entrepreneurs on the possible options where they could offer their expertise for the benefit of Ukraine. For example, Malaysian experts ready to share its experience in the framework of possible projects for the construction of roads and ports. Based on the statements of Prime Minister of Ukraine Vladimir Groisman, in 2018 the government plans to invest about 40 billion UAH on the development of local road infrastructure. We passed this information to Malaysian business.
And which sectors of the Ukrainian economy are most interesting to the Malaysians to invest?
Our Embassy has received a number of queries from private Malaysian companies about the cooperation with Ukraine in the sphere of trade in food products (particularly grains and beans), and oil and gas.
But our diplomatic representation is only a bridge between the Malaysian and Ukrainian businessmen, providing advice, and facilitating negotiations. We do not track the fate of any contracts signed with private companies, and record their progress in the form of the generalized results of statistics.
Can you talk about the presence of Malaysian business in Ukraine?
Unfortunately, at the moment the major Malaysian business is not registered in Ukraine.
In addition to “hunger for information”, in your opinion, what is the reason for the passivity of the interest of the Malaysian business community to our country?
As I have said before, the main role of the Embassy is to contribute to and promote the interest of our businessmen to Ukraine. We can only provide them with information about various business opportunities here and decide for themselves. But in order to arise interest, Malaysians must clearly understand the potential and possible risks to their business. From my point of view, these two issues are a priority for them. So I think our businesses are not very active on the Ukrainian market.
Maybe the problem is in the tens of thousands of miles that separate our countries?
A large distance between our countries is not an important criterion for entrepreneurs. In fact, Malaysian businesses in Eastern European and neighboring countries. Sooner or later, I’m sure its scale is reached in full measure, and the Ukrainian market.
That is, Malaysians, as the lion’s share of foreign business, are deterred by the unstable situation in Ukraine?
I can’t rely on a simple assumption. Malaysian businessmen need to better explore local business environment. It is important that the Ukrainian economy has developed rapidly over the past three years, and the reform process moving in a positive direction.
Do Ukrainian entrepreneurs in Malaysia or the situation is the same deplorable?
Several Ukrainian entrepreneurs continue their activities in Malaysia, but it’s mostly small and medium businesses. In particular, the Ukrainian businessmen in Malaysia successful in the field of information and engineering technologies.
In the beginning of our conversation you stated that the Malaysian side for investment in Ukraine attractive to agricultural and oil and gas industry. Why these industries?
Malaysia interested in cooperation in agricultural field, since your country is known worldwide as the breadbasket. In addition, the Malaysian economy is dominated by mainly non-food industry (palm oil, rubber). Therefore, we need the supply of food products. If we talk about the oil and gas industry, we are aware that Ukraine is going to reform, and Malaysia has to offer in this matter their expertise, and relevant experience.
Yes, Malaysia exported to Ukraine a lot of palm oil, while Ukraine supplied us with steel and coal. Ukraine is now refocused their processes for foreign exports and imports, so now we give more to Ukraine rubber, spare parts, different kinds of technical equipment and marine products. And Ukraine is delivered to us dairy products (cheese, butter…), as well as grain. With regard to the purchase of Ukrainian steel, after the Maidan events, unfortunately, we buy less of these products.
What are the quantities purchased of Ukrainian products in 2016?
As before, most of the imports consist of agricultural products: animal and vegetable fats and oils ($93,88 million according to 2016), cereals ($12,69 million), vegetables ($4.76 million), dairy products, eggs and honey (us$3.87 million). And all this together makes more than 80% of our import from Ukraine.
A few years ago from Malaysia to Ukraine supplied the furniture. Did this collaboration come about?
Today in Ukraine you can really find the Malaysian furniture products. But I don’t think that it takes a significant share of the Ukrainian furniture market. Previously, Malaysia was one of the main exporters of furniture products in the world. But today, our furniture industry is not so active.
Our country produces less furniture due to the high cost of production. Previously, Malaysian furniture craftsmen did many of the tops from the rubber tree, but today’s natural resources of rubber, a few languish. Although, at the time, Malaysia was among the three leading countries for the production of furniture.
In the end, I have to ask about the position of your state on the downed in July 2014 in the Donbas “Boeing-777” Malaysia Airlines.
Our position coincides with the opinion of the International investigation team. As is known, 20 September 2017, the international investigation team has advanced the investigation of the crash of a passenger Boeing-777 MH17, when the foreign Ministers of the five countries involved in the investigation, signed a Memorandum of understanding on political support of criminal prosecution of perpetrators of the crash of flight MH17 on 17 July 2014.
Perhaps there are details that Malaysian authorities would like to draw special attention to?
According to the findings of the International investigation team, Boeing-777 MH17 was shot down using anti-aircraft missile complex “Buk” from the Ukrainian occupied territories. On this basis, will be conducted further investigation and trial.