TWN Info Service
on Free Trade Agreements
07 October 2008
October 2, 2008
moving forward in FTA talks with US
By Jane Ritikos
LUMPUR: Malaysia is moving forward in the
US-Malaysia free trade agreement talks following a new mandate on certain
issues of contention, said International Trade and Industry Minister
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
He said the ad-hoc
committee chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak
had given a new mandate to allow Malaysia
to move forward in certain areas such as those pertaining to government
procurement, competition policy, intellectual property (IP) and labour.
“In certain areas
we needed to get clearance, for example IP, competition law and government
procurement because earlier it was no talk at all, no opening for us
to negotiate but the Cabinet has given some indication,” he told reporters
Wednesday at the Hari Raya open house hosted by the Prime Minister and
Muslim Cabinet ministers.
On whether this
meant that Malaysia
was opening up or adopting more flexibility in the issue of procurement,
he said: “I don’t think you want to say that. It is certain aspects
of procurement, and not a total package, which should be a non-binding
discussion and exploratory, rather than a commitment.”
that a meeting should commence between the two sides before the end
of the year.
He however said
there was no set deadline to conclude the talks as Malaysia believed
in working on a reasonable time-frame.
“It also depends
on how the United
States responds. They have high ambitions
for us to move many things. What we do today cannot compromise our economic
position. Of course in general we hope to boost trade but it must be
on the basis of a win-win situation,” he said.
On the meltdown
of the financial sector in the United State,
he said the Government was monitoring closely the situation as it was
serious and could impact the global economy.
He added that United
States was still an important trade partner with
16% of the country’s global trade, and Malaysia
was pushing hard for the FTA to come through. He acknowledged that export
to United States and Europe had slowed down but fortunately Malaysia’s
market had been diversified over the last two years to include China,
India, Japan and the Middle East.
He hoped the situation
in the United States
and Europe would not have an impact
on the total trade figure but rather that any impact would be compensated
by trade with emerging markets.
“We have to keep
monitoring especially for exports of electrical and electronic products
which is still reasonably good and which we feel adds value to our exports,”
He said the ministry
would talk with exporters to find out the trade trends and problems.
The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) overseas
had also been told to update the ministry on the situation as well as
possible pre-emptive measures to be taken.
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