BERNAMA, July 04, 2005
M’sia’s Trade Will See An Uptrend With FTAs
KUALA LUMPUR, July 4 (Bernama) — Malaysia’s trade is expected to continue to flourish following its free trade agreements (FTAs) with its trading partners in Asia, both regionally and bilaterally, Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said.
Trade with Asia is growing at a faster rate compared with North America and Europe, she said at the launch of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) Report 2004, here Monday.
Rafidah said that the first tranche of preferential market access under the Asean-China FTA had already come into effect and exporters could take advantage of this preferential treatment beginning July 20.
She had said previously that the agreement would see more Asean exports to China compared with China’s products into Malaysia.
She was also reported as saying that the increase in exports was to be higher for Asean into China than China into Asean because "the market is too big in China and they are aware of that."
As for Malysia’s trade with Japan, Rafidah said that the two countries were in the final stage of fine-tuning the economic partnership agreement which would be signed at the East Asia Summit in December.
Commenting on last year’s 12 percent trade decline between Malaysia and Japan, Rafidah said trade would increase once the FTA was signed.
She said that among the reasons for the decline were the consolidating and restructuring nature of some Japanese companies, while some of the companies which were here before, had relocated to China due to intensive labour needs.
"But we want to get higher-end investments from Japan," she said.
In 2004, Malaysia’s trade with Asia increased by 17.9 percent to RM551.9 billion from RM453.5 billion in 2003.
For the first five months of 2005, total trade with Asia totalled RM242.4 billion, with exports amounting to RM129 billion and imports at RM113.4 billion.
In the same period, exports to China totalled RM13.3 billion, Japan at RM20.5 billion, Korea at RM8.3 billion, and India at RM5.7 billion.
Rafidah said that Malaysia has also begun engaging India and Pakistan in FTA negotiations.
The joint study towards the establishment of a Comprehensive Cooperation Agreement with India was expected to be completed by September 2005, she said.
With Pakistan, she said that the government was in consultation with the industries for the Early Harvest Programme selection of products.
She said that Malaysia has also completed the second round negotiations towards the setting up of Malaysia-New Zealand and Malaysia-Australia FTAs.
A joint council on the Malaysia-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) was also exploring the possibility of an FTA between the two countries in the near future, Rafidah said.