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Cabinet to state its stand on M’sia-US FTA issue

Bernama, Malaysia

Cabinet To State Its Stand On M’sia-US FTA Issue

5 March 2007

KUALA LUMPUR, March 5 (Bernama) — The Ministry of International Trade and Industry would be presenting to the Cabinet this Wednesday the stand taken by all the respective ministries and agencies involved in the Malaysia-US Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

Its Minister, Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said that following the presentation, the Cabinet would draw the country’s final stand on each issue raised during the FTA negotiations.

"Each ministry would provide their specific stand on the matter and this would be discussed by the Cabinet. The conclusion drawn would be Malaysia’s stand when discussing the issue during negotiations," she told reporters after launching the International Islamic Exhibition 2007 here Monday.

The minister said this when asked on the progress of the FTA negotiations.

All the issues raised during the FTA meetings with the US were not solely dealt by MITI but a total of 19 negotiation teams headed by the related ministries, she said.

For an example, whatever stand taken on the area of agriculture whether it had to do with rice or tobacco, the stand is that of the Ministry of Agriculture, and the opinions given would be that of its officials or minister, she said.

"So, whatever the government’s stand so far is really the opinion of the related ministry or agency... and not MITI’s, and this is what I would be taking to the Cabinet.

"The Cabinet would know the stand taken on each of the related issue and the reasons," Rafidah said.

She said the Cabinet would make the decision on whether to agree with the ministries or otherwise. "They would also look at any other options Malaysia can take, and this is the way we negotiate," she added.

"It is not nice for Malaysia to have bilateral meetings with another country and release the entire outcome of the meetings through the media.. this does not reflect responsibility on the part of the government," Rafidah said.

She also stressed that Malaysia was not obliged to follow any specific deadline set for the conclusion of the FTA negotiations.