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Last Updated:[06-10-2010 06:22:42 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

US Adds Malaysia in Trans-Pacific Partnership for FTA Talks

tradenews Tired of Doha Rounds being reduced to lip service, the US is closing in on more countries for economic partnership in the Asia-Pacific region to fulfil Obama's export-oriented mission. As a chip off, the US Trade Representative Ron Kirk informed in a letter that Malaysia would be added to the talks for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a FTA already being negotiated among eight nations in the region.

The talks, which began this year, involve the US, Australia, New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, Chile, Vietnam and Peru. Among these, the US already has FTA with Singapore, Chile, Australia and Peru, and the latest declaration makes Malaysia the ninth nation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Incidentally, the announcement comes on the same day that Malaysia launched FTA negotiations with the EU. Currently, Malaysia enjoys trade pacts with the regional powers such as China and India, and the US and the EU FTA talks will only add on to the efforts designed to attract other global economic powers as well.

Last month, while speaking to the GlobalAtlanta, Atlanta's International Business News Source, International Trade and Industry Minister of Malaysia, Mustapa Mohamed said that ten years ago the US represented almost 19 percent of Malaysia’s foreign trade but today it was down to 11 to 12 percent. However, with $42bn of direct investment, the US ranked just behind Japan, as the No. 2 foreign investor in the country, he added.

The US and Malaysia failed to reach a FTA between each other during the Bush administration as the talks could not make progress in sensitive issues including Malaysia's system of affirmative action for Muslim Malays who dominate the multi-racial population. According to Kirk, the key reason to include Malaysia in the Trans-Pacific Partnership is that since it is engaged in extensive domestic economic reform, and has assured to conclude a high-standard agreement, inclusive of all outstanding issues.

The US exported $10bn of goods and services to Malaysia last year and imported more than $23bn, according to the US Census data.

By Jose Roy

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