India and Malaysia on Monday signed three MoUs for cooperation in cyber security, public administration and culture even as Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought a scaling up of trade and investment.
The memorandums of understanding were signed following talks between Modi and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak in the Prime Minister’s Office complex at Putrajaya, the federal administrative complex south of Kuala Lumpur.
Modi has often said that Malaysia is central to his government’s “Act East” policy that aims to drive the economic development of the landlocked northeastern states. India has had a strategic partnership with Malaysia since 2010.
The MoU on cyber security between the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-IN) and Cyber Security Malaysia will promote cooperation and exchange of information on cyber security incident management, cyber attacks, technological cooperation, prevalent policies and mutual response to cyber security incidents.
The MoU between the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog) and Malaysia’s Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) will promote cooperation in management, delivery and monitoring of government programmes to improve efficiency and develop tools to monitor performance.
The MoU between India’s culture ministry and Malaysia’s culture and tourism ministry is aimed at strengthening cultural exchanges and cooperation through visits of delegations and troupes, art exhibitions and exchange visits by scholars and experts.
Speaking at a joint media interaction with Najib, Modi described the agreement on cyber security as “very important”. He said: “As our lives get more networked, this is emerging as one of the most serious concerns of our age.”
Modi said he and Najib believed bilateral trade and investment ties could be “scaled up significantly” by exploiting bilateral and India-ASEAN agreements. “We look forward to an early conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement,” he added.
He further said India wants enhanced Malaysian participation in the expansion and upgrading of infrastructure and the “Make in India” and Smart Cities projects.
Najib described Modi as a “man of action” and said India wants to conclude an official agreement to build a convention centre in New Delhi. “I am excited about the new possibilities that we can do together with India,” he said.
“We also discussed defence cooperation as India has a very dynamic and strong defence industry. Both ministries will discuss on the possibilities of expanding our bilateral cooperation, which includes joint production.”
India’s trade with Malaysia was worth $14 billion in 2014. This included imports of $9.7 billion, mainly commodities, mineral fuels and animal and vegetable oils.
Malaysia has invested more than $7 billion in India and completed projects worth $6 billion, particularly in the infrastructure and construction sectors. India’s investments in Malaysia are around $2.3 billion and Indian companies such as IRCON, Reliance, Kirloskar, Bajaj, TCS, Mahindra, L&T and Wipro have a presence in the country.
Modi also sought the early conclusion of an agreement on mutual recognition of educational degrees and invited Malaysian students to study in India. Najib said the higher education ministry and Malaysian Qualifications Agency will talk to the relevant Indian authorities on this issue.