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FTA negotiations with US kicks off

Feb '07
Malaysia and the US launched negotiations to conclude a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on 8 March 2006 as a result of request by the private sector, particularly the US-Malaysia Business Council. This FTA initiative is meant to bring mutual benefits for the private sectors of both Malaysia and the United States. This business-driven initiative will further harness the complementarities of both economies.

The negotiations would also be in full compliance with all requirements under the WTO agreement.

Negotiations commenced with the full understanding that there would be no political agenda and no interference into domestic policies.

So far, Malaysia has negotiated with the US in four rounds, and the fifth round is scheduled to be held on 5-9 February 2007. Malaysia has adopted, and will continue to adopt, a firm position on issues effecting domestic policies and sovereign rights of the government over domestic policies.

The call by Tom Lantos to suspend the free trade agreement negotiations because of a business deal by a Malaysian com pany with the National Iranian Oil com pa ny does not augur well for the negotiations . No country can determine how com pa nies in another country should conduct business.

Malaysia is prepared to continue with the negotiations to conclude a free trade agreement that is beneficial to both pa rties and which would open opportunities for market access for Malaysian exporters, attract more foreign direct investment, and enhance ca pa city building.

But, Malaysia reiterates that the FTA negotiations cannot be held hostage to any political demand, and cannot be conducted under such threats. Malaysia is also ready to suspend negotiations if the situation warrants it.

It is now up to the US Administration to make its official position known, in order for Malaysia to decide on the future of the negotiations.

Ministry of International Trade and Industry

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