Malaysia-Sudan Trade and Investment Forum sessions began Thursday evening as Sudanese First Vice President Ali Uthman Taha affirmed his country’s commitment to strengthen economic ties between his country and Malaysia. Promising to remove all obstacles in Malaysia’s road to investment in Sudan, he stressed President Bashir’s personal support for these investments, which he said will be an example to follow in the region. Taha described the Forum as a paradigm shift in Malaysian-Sudanese relations and expressed his hope that cooperation between the two countries will be extended to all fields, especially that of technology. He announcing Sudan’s commitment to push the Forum’s recommendations through and provide the necessary concessions to Malaysian investors in Sudan. He promised great progress in the economic relations between the two countries through the realization of the agreements signed during the Forum. The First Vice President made a point of praising former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhamed’s support of Sudan in the international community, describing him as a national icon in Malaysia and a global icon in the Islamic Ummah. Projecting forward, Taha said that a directive will be issues to Sudanese ministries, institutions and companies to apply what has been agreed upon. For his part, Mahathir Mohamed said during the Forum: “We look forward to an increase in trade between Sudan and Malaysia in the upcoming period, especially that Sudan enjoys natural resources, water and other prerequisites for economic success that make economic partnership between the two countries possible.” The Former Prime Minister then listened to the fields in which Malaysian capital was investing in Sudan, which included the petroleum sector and other industries. “Sudan and Malaysia can achieve a huge economic renaissance through exchange of experience and information transfer,” he said, “the people of the two countries being the foremost beneficiaries.” The Malaysian guest had given a talk in which he presented his country’s economic experiment in some detail, providing information on the steps taken and their results. He also spoke about the reforms that transformed Malaysia from an agricultural country to being ranked 17thamong industrial countries. He emphasised the special attention given to education in Malaysia, stating that a quarter of the country’s budget went towards it. Malaysia also rewarded investment with concessions and exceptions and lowered taxes. He concluded his talk by asserting that success breeds success. Sudanese Foreign Minister Ali Karty also spoke, describing Sudanese-Malaysian relations as extensive and rooted in the depths of history. He applauded Malaysia’s economic experiment and said that Sudan is putting a great deal of hope in Malaysia to help it create a major economic renaissance. Karty also pointed out the increasing number of Sudanese people who go to Malaysia for various reasons, claiming this as evidence of a deeply entrenched closeness between the two people. Ali Mahmoud, Sudan’s Finance Minister, assured those present that Forum recommendations would help fulfill the tripartite economic program put in place by the government to repair a defective economy. Petroleum Minister Awad el-Gazali referred to cooperation between the two countries in the area of oil exploration and extraction and the role played by Malaysia in realizing the Sudanese dream of using its resources. State Minister at the Ministry of Commerce Fadl Mohamed, spoke about the objectives of the Trade and Investment Forum, saying that it aims at solidifying relations between the two countries as well as exchanging benefits and banding together to create an effective economic partnership. He called for a joining together of efforts on both sides to remove all obstacles in the path of economic and trade relations between the two countries. More than 11 agreements were signed, not all economic. Educational agreements were signed between a number of Sudanese and Malaysian universities. The accompanying exhibition was also opened, showcasing a number of contributions from Sudanese companies producing gum Arabic, petroleum and construction as well as Giad and Petronas, alongside contributions from a number of Chinese and Malaysian companies.