ISLAMABAD - Acting High Commissioner to Malaysia Mohammad Nadeem Khan Friday said that bilateral trade between Pakistan and Malaysia continues to increase with two-way trade touching $2.8 billion last year.

In a statement, Nadeem Khan said that due to a huge trade gap, Pakistan hopes to increase export of its non-traditional items to Malaysia. “Pakistan can be a major source of raw material for Malaysian industry. We also hope to strengthen our cooperation in Islamic finance and banking sectors,” he said.

He said the government was encouraged that our people to people interaction is growing. There are now more than 3,000 Pakistani students in Malaysian educational institutions.

Nadeem Khan said that about a dozen MoUs have been signed establishing links between various universities of both the countries. He said that more than 70,000 Pakistanis visited Malaysia last year, adding that Pakistan International Airlines has increased its flights to five per week, reflecting greater movement of people between the two countries.

Nadeem said that during last year, Malaysia was Pakistan’s 25th largest export destination and fifth largest import source.

“Bilateral trade saw a decline of about 24.81 percent last year and stood at $2.11 billion with exports from Pakistan amounting to $252.89 million and imports from Malaysia standing at around $1.86 billion and the trade is heavily skewed in favor of Malaysia,” he added. He said that Pakistan’s major exports to Malaysia include fish, potatoes, onion, rice, maize, cotton yarn, woven fabrics of synthetic staple fibre, bed linen, electrical apparatus for line telephones and parts and accessories.

He said that major exports to Pakistan include palm oil, electrical and electronic equipment, machinery, chemicals, rubber, wood, synthetic filament yarn, automatic data processing machine, parts and accessories.

He said that Malaysian investments in Pakistan have been mainly channelled into financial business, telecom and oil and gas exploration.

Nadeem Khan said that since 2008, Malaysia’s investment in Pakistan has been worth about $898 million. He said on the other hand, Pakistan’s investment in Malaysia has been concentrated mainly in wood and wood products, food manufacturing, furniture and fixtures and chemical and chemical products.

Nadeem Khan said that from 1980 to 2010, Pakistan’s investment in Malaysia has been worth about $291 million.

Nadeem said that tourism in Pakistan has been stated by the Lonely Planet Magazine as being the tourism industry’s “next big thing.”