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EU keen to step up FTA dialogues with Malaysia

Business Times, Malaysia

EU keen to step up FTA dialogues with Malaysia

By Rupa Damodaran

25 January 2010

Malaysia can have a free trade pact with the European Union (EU), EU ambassador Vincent Piket said, the second in Asean after Singapore.

"Malaysia ranks as our second largest trading partner in the Asean region, which is why we would like to step up dialogues," he told the Business Times in an interview.

According to a study, Malaysia’s economy would be boosted by 8 per cent by 2020 if an FTA with the EU was in place.

"We can rebuild trade - benefiting manufacturers, exporters and importers from both sides."

Piket said the global economic crisis last year wiped out 20 per cent of both the EU and Malaysia’s external trade which he estimates could be in the region of €6 billion (RM28.7 billion).

Malaysia’s trade with the EU in 2008 was around €30 billion (RM143 billion).

The EU, he said, is ready to negotiate on all products and sectors, as well as those sensitive to the Europeans like agri-food and fishery.

"We have signalled this to Malaysia. We are now waiting for Malaysia to review and compare their positions with the EU objectives and, hopefully, come forward."

An FTA, he said, would provide a long-term, stable trade relation between two equal partners.

"This would make a world of difference with the current unilateral granting of preferences by the EU under the so-called GSP (Generalised Scheme of Preferences)."

The GSP is an unilateral offer extended to developing countries in the world.