KUALA LUMPUR: The murder of the man believed widely to be Kim Jong Nam will not impact Malaysia's largely private-sector driven trade with North Korea, said Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed.
Speaking to reporters at a news conference on Thursday (Mar 2) afternoon, Mustapa added that Malaysia will not impose any restrictions on trade with North Korea on the back of fears that the Kim Jong Nam murder and the cancellation of visa free entry for North Koreans to Malaysia have strained diplomatic relations.
"Trade between Malaysia and North Korea is small. (But trade with) South Korea is big," he said.
He said investment from North Korea is "insignificant" and that the recent Kim Jong Nam saga "should not have any impact" on economic relations between the two countries.
According to a ministry official, trade between Malaysia and North Korea was around RM18 million (US$4.05 million) in 2016 and RM22 million in 2015 - largely comprising of palm oil exports to North Korea.
"There's no trade embargo or anything," said Mustapa. "We're not saying don't trade with North Korea; that's left for private companies to make a judgement as to whether they can make money in trade given the risk. There might be some risk."
However, Mustapa would not comment on whether it was safe for North Korean businesses to operate in Malaysia.
A member of Malaysia's ruling party UMNO Mustapa Yaakub earlier told Channel NewsAsia that he had entered a partnership with North Koreans in 2005.
After being introduced to his partners by a North Korean embassy official, he tried to market Glocom battlefield radios for three years before realising it violated UN sanctions.
According to a UN draft report for the Security Council, Glocom is a front company based in Kuala Lumpur which is run by North Korean intelligence agents,