U.S. RE­MAINS KEY PART­NER

Malaysia still hope­ful of TPP re­vival while work­ing on other FTAs, says Mustapa

New Straits Times - - Business - FRAN­CIS DASS KUALA LUMPUR bt@me­di­aprima.com.my

MALAYSIA con­tin­ues to have its eyes on the prize as far as trade mat­ters with the United States are con­cerned as the Amer­i­can econ­omy is the big­gest in the world.

In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mustapa Mo­hamed said Malaysia was con­stantly en­gaged with US of­fi­cials as the US was its third largest trad­ing part­ner.

He was speak­ing af­ter de­liv­er­ing the key­note speech at the one-day SME Ex­port Day con­fer­ence jointly or­gan­ised by the min­istry, Malaysia Ex­ter­nal Trade De­vel­op­ment Corp (Ma­trade), and Pan­pages, here, yes­ter­day.

“Last night, US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son met Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak.

“Among the is­sues dis­cussed was trade, and we be­lieve that there will be con­struc­tive en­gage­ment be­tween Malaysia and the US on eco­nomic mat­ters,” he said when asked about the sta­tus of the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP).

He said Malaysia re­mained hope­ful of a re­vival of the US-led trade pact, but was also ac­tively en­gaged in a myr­iad of other free trade agree­ments that were in the na­tion’s in­ter­est at the same time.

“(Ef­forts to­wards) the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship (RCEP) is mov­ing in par­al­lel with the TPP.

“The TPP is still rel­e­vant and we are hope­ful, as we have in­vested a lot of time and money on the ne­go­ti­a­tions and reach­ing an agree­ment.

“We are work­ing closely with other TPP coun­tries (fol­low­ing the US pulling out of the deal), and there will be a meeting hosted by Australia later this month on the way for­ward, as we have not given up,” Mustapa said.

On the China-backed RCEP, he said the group­ing had met 19 times at the of­fi­cial level and seven times at the min­is­te­rial level, with an­other meeting sched­uled in Manila in Septem­ber.

He said he would give mem­bers of par­lia­ment an up­date on Malaysia’s RCEP ef­forts to­day.

On SME Ex­port Day, Mustapa said it was be­ing held in con­junc­tion with Asean’s 50th an­niver­sary on Tues­day.

“We have or­gan­ised this event so that small and medium en­ter­prises (SMEs) who have suc­cess­fully ex­ported their prod­ucts and ser­vices to other Asean coun­tries can ex­change ideas and ex­pe­ri­ences with SMEs just em­bark­ing on ef­forts to ex­port their prod­ucts and ser­vices,” he said.

Mustapa said the min­istry would help SMEs lever­age Malaysian di­plo­matic mis­sions and trade of­fices in Asean to help them pen­e­trate the mar­ket.

Last year, ex­port con­tri­bu­tions from SMEs to the na­tion reached 17.8 per cent. Mustapa said Malaysia has a target of tak­ing this fig­ure to 23 per cent by 2020.

PIC BY EIZAIRI SHAMSUDIN

In­ter­na­tional Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Mustapa Mo­hamed speak­ing to at­ten­dees at SME Ex­port Day, which was hosted by his min­istry yes­ter­day.

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