KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and Ukraine plan to ramp up trade promotional activities in an effort to boost trade between both nations, said Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) deputy CEO Datuk Wan Latiff Wan Musa. He said Matrade would capitalise on the improving political situation in Ukraine, one of the largest countries in Eastern Europe with an estimated population of 42.41 million as at 2017. “We have to relook at our trade relationship with Ukraine as our bilateral trade figures are still low, given that Malaysian companies are not familiar with Ukrainian companies and vice versa. “Therefore, going forward we have to engage more with them. We want to encourage Malaysian companies to go there,” he told Bernama in an interview. Matrade and the Ukraine Embassy in Malaysia had recently jointly organised the Ukraine-Malaysia Business Forum, which saw the participation of 19 Ukrainian companies. A business meeting session with Malaysian companies was also held in conjunction with the one-day forum. Wan Latiff said Matrade planned to organise a trade mission, made up of Malaysian companies and related government agencies, to Ukraine soon, with the aim of creating awareness among Ukrainian companies on business opportunities in Malaysia, and vice versa. Ukraine is one of Malaysia’s major trading partners among Central and Eastern European countries. The diplomatic relations between both countries started in 1992, with a trade agreement signed in August 2002. In 2016, Malaysia’s total trade with Ukraine declined to RM715.2 million from RM1.01 billion in 2015 and RM1.19 billion in 2014. Between January and November 2017, Malaysia’s total trade with Ukraine improved slightly to RM844 million from RM655.2 million in the same month of 2016, with export rising 26.1% to RM432.3 million and import growing 31.8% to RM411.7 million. Major export items to Ukraine included palm oil and palm-based products, which accounted for 28.5% of the total share, electrical and electronic (E&E) products (21.6%) and processed food (14.4%). As for import, major items included other vegetable oils, iron and steel products, processed food, E&E products, as well as chemicals and chemical products.