Malaysia seeks more free trade pacts

By Wednesday November 23rd, 2011 No Comments

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, which aims to double its exports by 2015, hopes to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with Australia, Turkey, the European Union (EU) and the members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) next year.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said at present 61% of the country’s total trade was with FTA partners and he expected a 24% jump when it sealed FTAs with the EU and members of TPP.

“We hope to finalise negotiations for FTAs with Australia by the first quarter of next year and with the EU by the middle of the same year. As for Transpacific Partnership, the signing will probably be by July next year and Turkey in the next few months. By end of next year, Malay-sia would sign at least three to four FTAs, he said at a news conference after officiating the International Trade Malaysia (Intrade) 2011 at the Menara Matrade. The exhibition is organised by Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade).

The TPP, a proposed free trade pact covering nine Apec members (the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Chile and Peru) accounts for about 35% of the world economy.
He said these FTAs were as much about reducing tariffs as they were about facilitating trade, and included reducing or eliminating barriers in the form of complex customs regulations, or increasing transparency in rules and regulations. The aim of the FTAs was to ensure improved market access for Malaysian exporters of goods and services, he added.

“The aggregate impact of this array of FTAs was quite far-reaching.If you have a business based in Malaysia, you would have preferential access to a market of 3.3 billion consumers, which is almost half the world’s population,” he noted.

Mustapa said trade was a life blood for Malaysia and it currently contributed about 200% to the country’s gross domestic product.

Despite the economic uncertainties, Malaysia’s trade numbers, he said, had continued to grow as total trade in the first nine months surged by 8.6% while exports increased 8.3% over the same period. The fastest growth in exports for January to September was to Brazil (+46.9%), India (+34.9%), Bangladesh (+36.6%), Japan (+17.6%) and China (+13.4%).

Last year, Matrade organised 109 trade promotion activities, this year 113 activities, and in 2012, a total of 124 activities had been planned, he added.

Most of these activities, Mustapa said, were targeted at high growth markets such as China and India, as well as developing countries in Asean, West and Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Meanwhile, he said Intrade hoped to rake in actual sales of about RM300mil for the event this year compared with RM235mil last year.

Intrade, held from Nov 22 to 24, would see 433 booths exhibiting export-ready goods and services from 15 countries.

Three concurrent events would also be held during the event the Incoming Buying Mission Program-me, Kuala Lumpur International Trade Forum and FTA@Intrade Program.

Source : The Star

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