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Canada and Malaysia celebrated 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 an Honorary Consulate in Penang. Malaysia is represented in Canada by a High Commission in Ottawa, a Trade Office in Toronto and a Consulate in Vancouver.
Canada and Malaysia value multilateralism and interact in several forums, including the Commonwealth, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the World Trade Organization. Malaysia is Canada’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) coordinating country for 2021 to 2024.
Malaysia is one of Canada’s largest bilateral merchandise trading partners in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region. In 2022, bilateral trade was up 17% to $5.7 billion, up from $4.8 billion in 2021. Canadian merchandise exports to Malaysia reached $1.5 billion in 2022 (up 48%), with imports reaching $4.2 billion (up 9%). Top Canadian exports included metals, farm, fishing and intermediate food products, and electronics.
As of November 29, 2022, bilateral commercial exchanges between Malaysia and Canada are bolstered by the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
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 (2SLGBTQI+, women, indigenous peoples and victims of sexual violence), promoting freedom of expression, and diversity and inclusion.
Since 2013, the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives has deployed over $1 million in support of 30 projects led by local partners in these areas.
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.
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, counterterrorism, 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.
Additionally, Malaysia is a beneficiary of the many Canadian regional counterterrorism and anti-crime initiatives in Southeast Asia. These initiatives are addressing, among other things, cyber security, foreign terrorist fighters, terrorist financing, migrant smuggling, border security, and information sharing among ASEAN members.
Members of the Malaysian Armed Forces have benefitted from Canada’s Military Training Cooperation Program since 1966. Approximately 680 officers have received training in areas including language courses, peace support operations, Women, Peace, and Security, 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:
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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