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NEWS | Jan. 29, 2015

U.S. Relations With Malaysia

By Staff Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs

U.S.-MALAYSIA RELATIONS

The United States established diplomatic relations with Malaysia in 1957, following its independence from the United Kingdom but has had a consular or commercial presence in the area comprising modern day Malaysia since the 1800’s. President Obama and Prime Minister Najib elevated the relationship to a Comprehensive Partnership in April 2014. Today, Malaysia is a significant regional and global partner for the United States, and the two countries share a diverse and expanding partnership in trade, investment, and educational and cultural relations. Economic ties are robust, and there is a long history of people-to-people exchanges. Malaysia has a diverse democracy and is an important partner in U.S. engagement with Southeast Asia. The two countries cooperate closely on security matters, including counter-terrorism, maritime domain awareness, and regional stability and participates frequently in bilateral and multilateral training, exercises, and visits.

U.S. Assistance to Malaysia

U.S. assistance to Malaysia focuses on education, exchanges, cultural heritage preservation, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation, and security cooperation. The U.S. Fulbright English Teaching Assistant program in Malaysia is among the largest in the world, helping improve the English language skills of thousands of Malaysian secondary school students. Exchange programs promote engagement with secondary school and undergraduate students, Fulbright Scholars, agricultural fellows, and participants of sports and cultural programs. The U.S. also supports International Visitor Leadership programs. In 2014 President Obama announced additional exchange programs, grant opportunities and felllowships for youth ages 18 – 35 under the Young Southeast Asian Young Leaders Initiative (YSEALI). There are over 6,000 alumni of Department of State-sponsored exchange programs in Malaysia. Since 2001, the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP) has supported 10 projects to support the preservation of cultural heritage in Malaysia. Counter-terrorism assistance builds capacity within Malaysian law enforcement and judicial entities responsible for combating terrorism, and includes improving Malaysia’s ability to monitor and secure its borders. Non-proliferation assistance aims at enhancing Malaysia’s ability to enforce its laws on shipments and trans-shipments of controlled munitions, dual-use commodities, and weapons of mass destruction and related commodities. Security cooperation and training builds capabilities among Malaysia’s armed forces and coast guard, allowing it to take on an expanded international role, including peacekeeping operations and its recently concluded participation in stabilization efforts in Afghanistan.

Bilateral Economic Relations

The United States and Malaysia are both negotiating partners in the talks to form the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an ambitious next generation Asia-Pacific trade agreement. In addition to working together on TPP, the United States and Malaysia meet frequently to discuss bilateral trade and investment issues and to coordinate approaches on APEC, ASEAN, and the WTO. Malaysia was the United States’ 17th largest source of imports and 25th largest export destination in 2013, and the second-largest trading partner among the 10 ASEAN members in Southeast Asia. The United States is Malaysia’s fourth-largest trading partner. U.S. exports to Malaysia include machinery, aircraft, agricultural products, optic and medical instruments, and iron and steel. U.S. imports from Malaysia include machinery, agricultural products, and optic and medical instruments. The United States remains the largest foreign investor in Malaysia both with new investments in 2013 and total stock. Reported U.S. foreign direct investment in Malaysia is led by the manufacturing, banking, and oil and gas sectors. Malaysian foreign direct investment in the United States is led by the real estate, gaming, biotechnology and wholesale trade sectors.

Malaysia's Membership in International Organizations

Malaysia and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, ASEAN Regional Forum, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Malaysia and the United States participate in the East Asia Summit.

Bilateral Representation

The U.S. Ambassador to Malaysia is Joseph Y. Yun; other principal embassy officials are listed in the Department's Key Officers List.

Malaysia maintains an embassy in the United States at 3516 International Court NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 572-9700.

More information about Malaysia is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:

Department of State Malaysia Country Page
Department of State Key Officers List
CIA World Factbook Malaysia Page
U.S. Embassy: Malaysia
History of U.S. Relations With Malaysia
Human Rights Reports
International Religious Freedom Reports
Trafficking in Persons Reports
Narcotics Control Reports
Investment Climate Statements
Office of the U.S. Trade Representative Countries Page
U.S. Census Bureau Foreign Trade Statistics
Export.gov International Offices Page
Travel and Business Information

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