Malaysia-EU FTA set to be concluded by 2012, says EU official

Bernama | November 02, 2010

Malaysia-EU FTA set to be concluded by 2012, says EU official

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 (Bernama) — The Malaysia-European Union Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is set to completed by 2012, says European Union Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Malaysia, Vincent Piket.

He said the first round of the FTA meeting is expected to take place from December 6-9 in Brussel, Belgium while the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) talk will take place simultaneously in Putrajaya.

On October 6, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso officially launched negotiations for the Malaysia-EU Free Trade Agreement and Malaysia-EU Partnership and Cooperation Agreement in Brussels on the sidelines of the Eighth Asian-Europe Meeting (ASEM).

Najib was in Brussels heading the Malaysian delegation to the two-day ASEM Summit hosted by Belgium. That was the first visit to a EU member nation by a Malaysian Prime Minister, marking the next phase of expanding Malaysia-EU relations.

The confidence is there to conclude the session and "we are on the right track," said Piket.

"We have been promoting better understanding between both parties. It has just started and we are busy fixing for the first round of negotiation," he said at a media conference with selected media organisations, in conjunction with the visit of the EU Parliamentary Delegation to Malaysia Tuesday.

Also present was Chairman of the EU Parliament’s Delegation, Dr Werner Langen, and Ivo Belet, second vice-chairman of the delegation.

Piket said the EU-Malaysia FTA would provide a long-term, stable and legal framework for the relations between the two equal partners.

"The FTA will remove tariffs on the near totality of goods, will open up trade in services (beyond the level of commitment undertaken by EU and Malaysia in the WTO), will boost bilateral investments by providing a legally secure framework for trade relations, thus providing legal certainty and predictability to economic operators," he said.

Bilateral FTAs must be compatible with and supportive of the rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO). This means they must be trade creating, not trade diverting.

To make sure this is the case, Piket added that FTAs must cover "substantially all trade" and bring about a real integration of the economies of the negotiating parties, including sensitive areas.

The EU remains a staunch supporter of Asean integration.

Negotiating bilateral FTAs with individual Asean members is a way to pave the ground for an EU-Asean Region-to-Region FTA.

The objective remains, in due time, to "regionalise" the various bilateral deals into a single FTA. In this spirit, bilateral FTA negotiations with Singapore were launched in December, Piket said.

The EU is Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner. Malaysia is EU’s second individual trade partner in Asean.

Bilateral trade in goods reached 23 billion euros in 2009. Although the EU exports grew by 1.2 per cent on average per year between 2005 and 2009, Malaysia has consistently recorded a trade surplus of about 5 billion euros, with the EU over the same period.

The EU-Malaysia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement when finalised will provide the state-of-art strategic framework for enhanced cooperation by adding significant value to EU-Malaysia bilateral relations.

Touching on PCA, Langen said the PCA would provide unique opportunities to expand the EU’s engagement in a number of areas of mutual interest with Malaysia such as taxation and customs; intellectual property rights; combating terrorism and transnational crime; corruption; good governance; human rights; migration; trafficking in persons; non-proliferation and disaster risk management.

The agreement will further strengthen EU-Malaysia policy dialogue on environment, green technology and climate change. It will also establish a more intensive platform to exchange views and enhance cooperation on global and multilateral matters.

The PCA would be EU’s first bilateral framework agreement with Malaysia.

source: Bernama