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Malaysia has met commitments on tariff elimination

Bernama, Malaysia

Malaysia Has Met Commitments On Tariff Elimination

By Mohd Nasir Yusoff

4 May 2008

NUSA DUA (Bali), May 4 (Bernama) — Malaysia has met its commitments on tariff reduction and elimination and opening up the services sector in the Asean region, International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Sunday.

In line with the commitments under the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA), Malaysia had eliminated duties on 81.42 per cent of its products (10,181 tariff lines) effective Jan 1, 2007.

"Malaysia had also eliminated import licensing requirements on 29 products covering forklift trucks, cranes and heavy machinery effective Jan 1 this year in line with the work programme of elimination of non-tariff barriers," he said at the end of the two-day Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) Retreat here Sunday.

In services, he said, Malaysia reiterated for timely implementation of the various commitments and obligations in order not to disrupt business planning and strategies undertaken by the private sector.

At the retreat, Malaysia also raised the need for Asean to enhance participation of Asean-wide trade and business organisations, stressing that strengthening collaborations among the Asean business community, particularly small-and-medium-scale enterprises was critical as Asean was moving towards concluding Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan and South Korea.

Muhyiddin said the AEM also took note of the progress in drafting the Asean Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) and Asean Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) which would be finalised by the 40th AEM Meeting in August this year.

"Malaysia also supported strongly the concerns expressed by the ministers with regard to the current high price for rice caused by factors such as increased demand; increased cost of inputs; decreased land devoted to agriculture; and temporary disruptions such as poor weather conditions and plant disease.

"Malaysia also reaffirmed that access to adequate and reliable supply of rice and stable prices is fundamental to the region’s economic and social well-being," he said.

Muhyiddin said the ministers also discussed progress made by Asean in the negotiations of FTAs with dialogue partners, namely India, Australia and New Zealand and the European Union (EU).

They exchanged views on the work programme under the ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Arrangement (TIFA) with the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

The ministers reaffirmed their commitments to the deadlines agreed to by the leaders for realisation of the FTAs.

The AEM also took note of the status of ratification of the Asean Charter signed by Asean Heads of Government in November 2007, which todate had been ratified by six Asean member states — Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia.

The remaining four member states — Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Thailand — are still undertaking domestic processes to get the charter ratified.

The charter is expected to be implemented by all Asean member states in the first quarter of 2009.

Muhyiddin said the ministers also focused their discussions on the progress of the measures outlined in the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, with one of the main concerns raised was the issue on compliance by Asean member states to obligations and commitments made under the various economic agreements.

To address this issue, AEM agreed to develop an AEC Scorecard to serve as a monitoring mechanism which provides an assessment on the progress of implementation of measures and commitments in the AEC Blueprint and other related economic matters.