13/12/05 KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Russia has offered to reduce tariffs for 438 Malaysian products, a move that is set to raise trade volume to a significantly higher level.
Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said the products included palm oil, margarine, palm kernel oil, plywood, veneered panels, laminated wood, chemical products, electrical and electronic products, rubber products, fish products, coffee, tea, pepper and furniture.
She said the signing of the protocol on completion of bilateral negotiations on Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) also covered recognition of initial negotiation rights for 118 products.
Rafidah said the initial negotiation rights would provide the mechanism for prior consultation before any changes were made to the tariff rates by Russia.
The signing of the protocol by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Rafidah was witnessed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Upon accession to the WTO, Russia will bind all market access concessions accorded to the WTO members, which will be applicable to all member countries in line with the most-favoured-nation principle.
Malaysia's bilateral trade with Russia last year amounted to RM3.3 billion, with exports valued at RM1.5 billion and imports at RM1.8 billion.
From January to October this year, total trade between Malaysia and Russia was RM3.05 billion with exports valued at RM1.59 billion and imports at RM1.46 billion.
Malaysia's main exports to Russia are iron and steel pipes, fixed vegetable fats and oils, telecommunication equipment and parts, processed animal and vegetable fats and oils, and electrical appliances.
Major imports from Russia are fertiliser, petroleum products, iron and steel products, non-ferrous metals and aircraft-associated components.
Rafidah said Russian investments in Malaysia between January and September this year amounted to RM7.3 million while Malaysia's investments in Russia for the same period was RM12 million.
From the year 2000 to September this year, total investments from Malaysia in Russia amounted to RM124 million, mainly in timber-related activities, textiles, chemicals, and palm oil and edible fats.