KUALA LUMPUR - Bilateral trade between China and Malaysia is likely to reach $100 billion within the next three years.
The increase will come as a result of increasing cooperation between the two countries, said Chai Xi, China's ambassador to Malaysia, on Friday.
The volume of bilateral trade rose by 14.4 percent in the first two months of 2011 from the same period last year, partly spurred by the free trade agreement between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Chai told China Daily.
"The pact has achieved a very good result so far by facilitating more trade cooperation. We're very optimistic about the prospects for bilateral trade," Chai said.
The trade volume between China and Malaysia hit $74.28 billion last year with a year-on-year increase of 42.8 percent, following the opening of the China-ASEAN Free Trade Area on Jan 1, 2010. The area is the world's most populous with a population of more than 1 billion.
Malaysia has been China's biggest trading partner among the 10 ASEAN nations for three consecutive years, while China has been Malaysia's biggest trading partner globally for two years.
"We expect that bilateral trade will grow to a relatively high level in 2011 from last year's base," Chai said.
To strengthen further cooperation between the two nations, Premier Wen Jiabao will pay an official visit to Malaysia on April 27 and 28. It will be the second high-level visit in recent years after President Hu Jintao traveled to the country in 2009.
Senior trade and economic officials will accompany Premier Wen on his trip, according to the ambassador.
A number of agreements will be signed during the visit, including one on expanding and deepening economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, Chai said.
Premier Wen will also attend the China-Malaysia Economic & Trade Cooperation Forum in Kuala Lumpur. The forum will draw around 500 participants, including delegates from the biggest companies in the two countries.
According to the New Straits Times, China's investment in Malaysia totaled $70 million in 2010, lower than the volume of bilateral trade.
The newspaper reported that Premier Wen will be accompanied by representatives of government-related companies to enhance their presence in the country.
Apart from the traditional areas of cooperation, including palm oil, rubber, and mechanical equipment, China and Malaysia should also increase trading opportunities in sectors such as oil and gas, fisheries and agriculture, Chai said.
He also said that Malaysia's Defense Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahidi will visit China in the first half of this year to discuss cooperation in the defense sector.
A framework agreement to facilitate mutual recognition of higher-education qualifications will also be signed during Premier Wen's visit.
"We're fully confident that with the efforts of both sides, (Premier Wen's) visit will take strategic cooperation between China and Malaysia to a higher level," Chai said.