FTA deal with Chile to be sealed soon

New Straits Times, Malaysia

FTA deal with Chile to be sealed soon

15 November 2009

By Shahriman Johari

Malaysia is close to finalising its first Free Trade Area (FTA) deal with Chile and the Latin American leader plans to sign it during a visit to Kuala Lumpur.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet Jeria was scheduled to visit Malaysia tomorrow but decided to delay her trip as she wanted to sign the FTA in Malaysia.

"I believe it won’t be long before we conclude the deal," Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak told Malaysian reporters here yesterday.

A new date for the Chilean leader’s visit has yet to be decided. Najib is in the republic for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, which will gather 21 leaders of Asia-Pacific economies.

Malaysia exports mainly electronics and steel products to Chile while its main imports from Chile are copper and lead.

Najib also met Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday and they discussed issues on human trafficking, vocational training cooperation and trade.

Malaysia is still in talks for an FTA deal with Australia, the country’s biggest foreign investor last year.

Earlier, during the first Apec meeting, leaders discussed the economy, the need to make business easier and on how they planned to evaluate a target to free trade completely among developed member countries next year.

They planned to do the assessment during next year’s meeting in Japan.

"Although the worst is over (for the economy), recovery in the real economy has yet to start," Najib said.

The leaders agreed to reject protectionism or putting in place trade barriers like import taxes to make local products comparatively cheaper.

They also wanted the current trade talks under the World Trade Organisation to be completed by next year, and every Apec leader must give clear instructions to their ministers and senior officials to that effect, Najib said.

Today, Najib and other Apec leaders, will meet US President Barack Obama, who has cut short his trip to Singapore and will be in town for less than 24 hours.

Obama’s message on trade has been eagerly awaited and he will also join the first Asean-US leaders’ summit at the sidelines of Apec today.

They plan to talk about Asean-US relations, the global economy, climate change and health pandemics, among others.

Apec countries include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the United States and Vietnam.

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