‘Malaysia keen to con­clude RCEP talks by end of year’

New Straits Times - - Business -

KUALA LUMPUR: While Malaysia is more fo­cused on see­ing to the con­clu­sion of the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship (RCEP) talks by year-end, it has not shifted its fo­cus off the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) agree­ment.

In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry deputy sec­re­tary­gen­eral Datuk Ishak Isham said the con­ces­sions agreed on dur­ing TPP ne­go­ti­a­tions over five years were tar­geted to­wards get­ting ac­cess to Amer­i­can mar­kets.

“Malaysia would have ben­e­fited from ex­ports of palm oil and rub­ber, ply­wood, elec­tron­ics, tex­tiles, au­to­mo­tive parts and com­po­nents. With­out the US, it would be dif­fi­cult to say if it will ben­e­fit us,” he said.

Malaysia re­mained hope­ful the new US ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump would re­think its de­ci­sion, he said.

There are US con­gress­men and multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tions who are said to be push­ing the US to be part of the 12-mem­ber group­ing again.

In the mean­time, Isham said the rat­i­fi­ca­tion process across the group­ing was now al­most 85 per cent and in the case of Malaysia, it would con­tinue.

Ear­lier, Isham said at the Malaysia Trade and Ex­port Fi­nance Con­fer­ence 2017 yes­ter­day the gov­ern­ment was faced with four op­tions af­ter Trump with­drew US from the TPP in Jan­uary.

They were pur­su­ing the TPP with the US, a TPP mi­nus one (US), bi­lat­eral free-trade agree­ments (FTAs) with TPP mem­bers and not do­ing any­thing.

The sig­na­to­ries of the agree­ment in Fe­bru­ary last year are cur­rently in San­ti­ago, Chile, to dis­cuss the way for­ward for the pact.

“Trade min­is­ters will also meet at the Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (Apec) Min­is­ters Re­spon­si­ble for Trade meet­ing in Viet­nam in May, where there will be fur­ther dis­cus­sions.”

On a bi­lat­eral FTA with the US, he said it was still early days as Malaysia wanted to be clear about Trump’s trade pol­icy, adding that Malaysia would have to as­sess through a cost-ben­e­fit anal­y­sis as to whether it should em­bark on the talks again.

Both coun­tries were pre­vi­ously en­gaged in bi­lat­eral FTA talks but de­cided to forego that in favour of the TPP.

Isham said the FTA talks with the Euro­pean Union would also re­sume some time this year.

On the RCEP, a trade pact with a less am­bi­tious tar­get than the TPP, he said 17 rounds of ne­go­ti­a­tions had been held since May 2013.

“Chal­lenges re­main in bridg­ing gaps be­tween the dif­fer­ent lev­els of the economies.”

When con­cluded, it will be a new ba­sis for FTAs in the re­gion and a step­ping stone for fur­ther en­gage­ments with the rest of the world.

The RCEP in­volves 16 coun­tries com­pris­ing the 10 mem­bers of Asean and China, Ja­pan, South Korea, In­dia, Aus­tralia and New Zealand.

It cov­ers 50 per cent of the global pop­u­la­tion and has a com­bined gross do­mes­tic prod­uct (GDP) of US$20.8 tril­lion (RM92.56 tril­lion), which makes up 28.1 per cent of the to­tal world GDP.

It also makes up US$9.55 tril­lion of global trade (28.7 per cent of world to­tal) and US$329.6 bil­lion of for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment in­flows. Rupa Damodaran

With­out the US, it would be dif­fi­cult to say it will ben­e­fit us.

DATUK ISHAK ISHAM Deputy sec­re­tary-gen­eral In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­istry

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.