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Canada-Malaysia relations

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Bilateral relations

Canada and Malaysia are celebrating 65 years of official diplomatic relations in 2022. Our friendly ties stretch back to the beginnings of modern Malaysia. Canada was one of the first countries to establish formal diplomatic relations with the newly independent Federation of Malaya in 1957. In Malaysia, Canada is represented by the High Commission of Canada in Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, and by a by an Honorary Consul in Penang. Malaysia is represented in Canada by a High Commission in Ottawa, a Trade Office in Toronto and a Consulate in Vancouver.

Trade relations

Malaysia is one of Canada’s largest bilateral merchandise trading partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. In 2021, bilateral trade totaled $4.8 billion, up from $3.8 billion in 2020. Canadian merchandise exports to Malaysia were valued at $1.02 billion, compared to $774 million in 2020. Top Canadian exports included fertilizers (potash), aluminium, plastic, cereals (wheat), electrical equipment and oilseeds. Canada’s merchandise imports from Malaysia, which were valued at $3.8 billion in 2021, consisted primarily of electronic equipment, rubber, machinery, scientific and precision instruments, fats and oils, and furniture.

As of November 29, 2022, bilateral commercial exchanges between Malaysia and Canada are bolstered by the Comprehensive Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement.

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Through the High Commission of Canada in Malaysia, Canada engages in strategic advocacy and supports programming to promote Canadian values. Partnering with Malaysian civil society organisations, areas of focus include strengthening democratic values, supporting vulnerable groups (LGBTQI+, women, indigenous peoples and victims of sexual violence), promoting freedom of expression, and diversity and inclusion. 

Canada’s ASEAN regional development program aims to strengthen the empowerment of the poor and most vulnerable people in ASEAN countries with a particular focus on women and girls.

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Defence and security

Canada and Malaysia enjoy a robust and expanding defence and security relationship. The two nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding on security cooperation in 2013 and regularly collaborate in areas including military capacity building, counter-terrorism, and Weapons of Mass Destruction threat reduction, particularly Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear threat response. Canada has trained over 1,000 Malaysian first responders in how to respond safely to various threats, security incidents, and attacks. Canada has also contributed equipment to Malaysian security partners, including two rigid hull fender boats which were delivered to the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency in 2014.

Additionally, Malaysia is a beneficiary of the many Canadian regional counter-terrorism and anti-crime initiatives in Southeast Asia. These initiatives are addressing, among other things, cyber security, foreign terrorist fighters, terrorist finance, migrant smuggling, strengthening border security, and improving information sharing among ASEAN members.

Members of the Malaysian Armed Forces have benefitted from Canada’s Military Training Cooperation Program since 1966. More than 500 officers have received training in areas including language courses, peace support operations, and military professional development.

Partnerships and organizations

To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Malaysia work cooperatively in multilateral fora, such as:

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