Having signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement on 10 May 2004, the US and Malaysia agreed in early 2006 to start negotiating a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. US negotiators indicated that they expected to conclude talks by the end of 2006 but that was not to be.
The Malaysian government has been putting up a fight on various issues such as government procurement (which Malaysia does not want to open to US participation) and its Bumiputra policy (giving special preferences to ethnic Malays). Social movements, on the other hand, reject the talks particularly in terms of the implications of a deal on access to medicines, intellectual property and Malaysia’s autonomy to set policies. The negotiations have stalled since 2009, and are now effectively on ice.
last update: May 2012
Photo: Third World Network
Trade unions from the United States have joined forces with their Malaysian counterparts to strongly oppose ongoing negotiations for bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) until workers’ concerns are first addressed.
A free trade pact with the United States is unlikely to be concluded before a July 1 deadline because of differences over opening up services and Malaysian government contracts, the trade minister said Wednesday.
International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz has not addressed the main concerns surrounding the US-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), claimed a regional grouping of fishermen and farmers today.
Tobacco and rice are listed in Malaysia’s exclusion list in its negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the United States.
The United States recognizes that Malaysia is not going to completely eliminate preference programs that reserve a substantial share of the government procurement market for bumiputra, but believes there still are ways the pact can open up that sector to more American firms.
The US and Malaysia need at least two more rounds of negotiations to overcome obstacles and reach a free trade agreement, a top American trade negotiator said Friday.
Other countries’ experiences and international research have proven that signing a US FTA could be a raw deal for Malaysia.
The United States and Malaysia this week started a fourth round of talks for a free trade agreement (FTA), which Washington wants to complete before President George W Bush’s trade-negotiating authority expires in June. The Coalition Against the US-Malaysia FTA delivered a memorandum to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi calling on him to intervene, and urged transparency on the details and implications of the deal.
Disagreements have surfaced in the third round of negotiations in November for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Malaysia and the United States. This has provided a glimmer of hope for a civil society coalition that has been actively campaigning against the FTA for fear that it could be damaging to Malaysia’s economic sovereignty and to the interests of workers, the poor and the marginalised.
Malaysia’s initial offer to open its market to more US farm and manufactured goods sets the stage for progress next week on a proposed free trade pact, a US trade official said on Friday.