|09KUALALUMPUR943||2009-11-20 08:55:00||CONFIDENTIAL||Embassy Kuala Lumpur|
1. (C) Summary: Per Ref A request, this message provides
post's analysis of Malaysian policies and actions with
respect to Cuba, for use in assessing whether to waive Title
III of the LIBERTAD Act. There has been no substantive change
since Ref B. Malaysia does not have significant economic or
political interests in Cuba. Post has no information
regarding Malaysian persons trafficking in property
confiscated by the Cuban government. Post does not believe a
decision to waive or not to waive Title III will have a
significant impact on Malaysian relations with Cuba; they
will remain cordial. However, imposing sanctions against a
Malaysian entity would be perceived as a negative political
act, and would likely result in more vocal opposition to U.S.
policy toward Cuba than Malaysia has demonstrated in the
past, and could have unanticipated effects on other areas of
the relationship where we are seeking Malaysian cooperation.
Investment and Bilateral Trade with Cuba
2. (U) Malaysia has a very limited economic relationship with
Cuba. Total bilateral trade for 2008 was $26 million.
Malayasia exported $7 million in food, furniture and
electronics. Malaysia imported $19 million of vaccines,
beer, rum and cigars from Cuba. Trinidad Holdings Sdn. Bhd.,
a trading group based in Kuala Lumpur, has been the exclusive
Malaysian distributor for Cuban cigars since 1993, and also
sells Cuban wine, beer, and ice cream mainly to hotels and
restaurants. Cuba represented less than one quarter of one
percent of Malaysia's 2008 total global trade of more than
$336.3 billion. Total trade dropped during the first four
months of 2009: Malaysia exported $1.6 million to Cuba and
imported $100,000 of goods from Cuba. There are no trade
agreements between Malaysia and Cuba.
3. (U) Malaysian national oil company Petronas has signed a
production sharing contract on four offshore blocks with
Cubapetroleo for rights to explore for oil and gas in Cuban
waters. Petronas has not disclosed the price paid for the
rights or the amount actually invested by Petronas in Cuban
oil and gas exploration. Post is not aware of any
significant Malaysian investments in Cuba.
Scientific and Medical Cooperation
4. (U) The two countries signed a memorandum of
understanding for scientific cooperation in 2002 that was
designed to advance cooperation on biotechnology, primarily
at the university level. Several Malaysian entities including
private companies Bioven and Inno Biologics as well as
Universiti Sains Malaysia continue working with Cuban
entities including the Heber Biotec Company, the Centre for
Molecular Immunology, the Findlay Institute and the Center
for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology. Joint projects
include a vaccine for lung cancer now in clinical trials and
a halal meningitis vaccine targeted at OIC countries and
Muslim pilgrims traveling to Mecca.
5. (U) The Government of Cuba offers scholarships to
Malaysian students to study medicine in Cuba. Although Cuban
medical degrees are accredited by the World Health
Organization, the Government of Malaysia does not recognize
6. (U) Cuba and Malaysia occasionally conduct sports and
cultural exchanges; there are two Cuban boxing coaches
currently working in Malaysia.
Promotion of Democracy
7. (C) The Government of Malaysia has undertaken no policies
or actions of which we are aware to advance democracy, human
rights and fundamental freedoms in Cuba. Malaysia is a vocal
advocate of non-interference in the internal affairs of other
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states. Malaysia established diplomatic relations with Cuba
in February 1975 and opened its embassy in Havana in 2001.
High Level Visits
8. (U) Post is not aware of any high-level visits during the
past six months.
9. (C) Although Egypt is now the Chair of the NAM, Cuba and
Iran are also on the troika (as past and future Chairs,
respectively). Hence we should expect Cuba to influence
Malaysia,s views on NAM issues. Malaysia objects in
principle to the imposition of economic sanctions and
consequently opposes U.S. economic sanctions on Cuba. We
would expect Malaysia to protest in principle the imposition
of Title III sanctions on any country. The protests would
become more vehement if a Malaysian entity were singled out
for sanctions. Malaysia could be expected to respond to
sanctions by maintaining or even increasing its support for
Cuba in the UN and other organizations.