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Malaysia, GCC To Resume FTA Talks

Bernama, Malaysia

Malaysia, GCC To Resume FTA Talks

4 June 2015

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will resume talks on a free trade agreement this year, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

He said previous negotiations on the FTA had stalled due to the political unrest in the Arab region.

"Later this year, I hope it (the negotiations) will start again. I plan to visit the headquarters of the GCC in Riyadh to follow up on the status of the agreement," he told reporters after officiating the Arab Malaysian Chamber of Commerce annual general meeting here today.

Malaysia-GCC FTA talks started in 2011 following the signing of a framework agreement to boost economic, commercial, investment and technical cooperation between the two parties.

Mustapa said the Arab market was an important destination for Malaysia and the market had grown threefold in the past decade to RM61.94 billion last year from RM27.12 billion in 2004.

Last year, he said Malaysia’s trade with the Arab league countries grew 8.5 per cent, driven by expansion in import.

He said imports from Arab league countries were valued at RM37.39 billion while exports stood at RM24.54 billion with major exports including petroleum products, palm oil and electronic and electrical products.

However, he said Malaysia’s trade with the Arab world declined 19.8 per cent in the first quarter this year due to the turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa.

He added that as ASEAN became more integrated as a single economic community, Malaysia was poised to attract more foreign businessmen, including from Arab nations, to do business in the country and thus forge closer ties between the Arab world and Malaysia.

On trade performance, Mustapa hinted that Malaysia’s first four months trade performance was affected by the drop in commodity prices and sluggish economic development in the country’s major trading partners.

However, he said the manufacturing sector’s performance continued to do well while the electrical and electronics sector recorded modest performance.

Earlier, Mustapa also witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between MIT Services Sdn Bhd and Halliburton Energy Services Inc for joint development framework of intellectual properties and new technology for downhole tools in oil and gas industry.

The agreement is also for the rental of Intelligent Circulation While Drilling tools (iCWD) developed by MIT in Malaysia, initially to Halliburton’s operations in the United States before being expanded to other countries globally.