Strengthening UK-Malaysia ties and boosting trade relations are new British High Commissioner’s aims

The role of Ailsa Terry as British High Commissioner-designate begins in Kuala Lumpur with the focus on enhancing UK-Malaysia ties, trade partnerships and climate cooperation through CPTPP. It marks a significant milestone in the ever-growing relationship between the United Kingdom and Malaysia.
Two nations expect to benefit from their inaugural Free Trade Agreement, established through the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), which the UK joined just last month, so Ms Terry’s arrives at a crucial juncture. Bilateral trade and further solidify the ties between the two countries are expected to be enhanced by the agreement.
Ms Terry commences her appointment on August 10, 2023, succeeding Charles Hay MVO as the British High Commissioner to Malaysia. Her role in fostering diplomatic relations between the two nations will be formalized by presenting her credentials to His Majesty The Yang Di-Pertuan Agong later this month as part of her official duties.
Enthusiasm for the UK-Malaysia relationship and determination to reinforce various aspects of cooperation were expressed by Ms Terry upon her arrival, as well as the potential for expanded trade, education and technology partnerships, joint efforts to address the climate emergency and uphold international norms were highlighted by her. The opportunities for enhanced defence collaboration, particularly through the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) were also acknowledged.
According to Ms Terry, Malaysia is a global biodiversity hotspot, and UK-Malaysia Climate Partnership Memorandum of Understanding will enable both sides to work more closely together. She is also looking forward to working with Malaysia on important issues affecting regional security, stability, and prosperity, especially during the Malaysian chairmanship of ASEAN in 2025.
Ms Terry previously served as the Director of the FCDO’s Sanctions Directorate from 2022 to 2023, as the Foreign Affairs Sous-Sherpa and Director during the UK’s Presidency of the G7 in 2021 and as the Political Adviser to the EU Special Representative to Afghanistan in 2011.
This background of various diplomatic postings, including Islamabad and the UK Mission to the European Union in Brussels, means a wealth of expertise and knowledge she will bring to her new role.
Ms Terry matches her hope for fostering stronger UK-Malaysia ties with the economic potential of the new Free Trade Agreement. Easier access to the world’s fifth-largest economy and a consumer market of over 67 million people is opened up by the UK’s accession to the CPTPP on July 16, 2023. Malaysia in its turn gets a significant opportunity to strengthen bilateral trade and investment relationships.
Bilateral trade in goods and services between the UK–Malaysia attained approximately £5.6 billion in the four quarters to the end of 2022 (4Q22). A near-five per cent share of the Malaysian market in services (compared to less than 2% in goods), mainly in the travel, transportation, financial and other business services sub-sectors, currently belongs to the UK.
As it was stated in a press release last month, there is significant potential for growth in Malaysia and in UK businesses and investors’ interest in utilizing Malaysia as a hub in the wider region, given the UK’s strengths, especially in services.
However, studies conducted on the specific opportunities in Malaysia and in the UK for both nations’ goods and services trade and investments have been limited. Up to now, the broad or aggregated benefits of trading to the economies of both countries have been the focus of the studies.
According to the further statement of the release, research focused on how the UK’s accession to the CPTPP could benefit the different UK and Malaysian trade and services exporters as well as investors is now being proposed to fill this gap.

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