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FTA to enhance Japan-M’sia economic relations, says Koizumi

Bernama, Malaysia

FTA To Enhance Japan-M’sia Economic Relations, Says Koizumi

By Mohd Arshi Daud

10 December 2005

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 (Bernama) — The Japan-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (FTA) will boost trade and investment, improve competitiveness and advance Tokyo-Kuala Lumpur economic relations to a new stage, says Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.

The agreement, known as the Japan-Malaysia Economic Partnership Agreement (JMEPA), is scheduled to be signed next week as Malaysia host the 11th Asean Summit, inaugural East Asia Summit and other related summits beginning Monday.

The pact is Japan’s third free trade agreement, after its FTAs with Singapore and Mexico.

The Japan-Malaysia FTA will enhance Malaysia’s partnership with Japan in broader areas apart from the liberalisation of trade and investment, he said in a written interview with Bernama.

These include intellectual property protection, control of anti-competitive activities, enhancement of business environment and cooperation in seven specific areas (agriculture, forestry, fisheries and plantation; education and human resource development; information and communications technology; science and technology; small and medium enterprises; tourism; and environment).

"I expect that the JMEPA will boost trade and investment, improve the competitiveness of both our countries, and advance our economic relations to a new stage," he said.

On his assessment of future prospects for Japan-Malaysia relations, the Japanese leader said governments of both countries were relentlessly engaging in efforts to strengthen further Tokyo-Kuala Lumpur close and friendly relations, as symbolised in the Look East Policy.

"Preparations are now being made to achieve results during my visit to Malaysia," said Koizumi, who is set to make a four-day visit to Malaysia from Sunday to attend the Asean+3 Summit, Asean-Japan Summit and the inaugural East Asia Summit.

Apart from enhancing partnership specifically in the JMEPA, the preparations also cover the initiative to create the Malaysia-Japan International University of Technology (MJIUT), he noted,

He disclosed that the MJIUT, a preparatory centre, is scheduled to be opened in the near future.

Through this centre, Koizumi said, it is expected that a Japanese-style technical university will be established in Malaysia to advance a new approach of educating students in an environment surrounded with Japanese values, work ethics and culture.

He noted that to date, about 4,200 Malaysian students had attended universities and technical junior colleges in Japan under the Look East Policy and the Higher Education Loan Fund Project (HELP).

"This new approach would hold great significance in further developing these exchanges to nurture human resources should it prove to be fruitive.

"Furthermore, this university is scheduled to accept students not only from Malaysia, but from widely across the Asean region. I aspire to continue our efforts to construct a base for human resource development in the Asean region."

He stressed that Malaysia "plays a vital role in promoting regional cooperation in East Asia and is an important partner to Japan".

Koizumi said Tokyo was looking forward to the official visit to Japan by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in March next year, following the visit in March this year by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail.

"I am confident that our bilateral relations will develop into a partnership of a new era through this chain of efforts," he added.