The Edge Malaysia | 22 November 2023
Malaysia is currently engaged in two ongoing FTA negotiations, says Tengku Zafrul
By Choy Nyen Yiau
KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 22): Malaysia is currently negotiating two new free trade agreements (FTAs): the Malaysia-EFTA Economic Partnership Agreement (MEEPA) and the Asean-Canada Free Trade Agreement (ACaFTA), according to the Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.
He explained that MEEPA, currently under negotiation since 2014, is the economic partnership agreement between Malaysia and the countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
“Meanwhile, ACaFTA is a free trade negotiation between Canada and Asean countries, including Malaysia, that has been ongoing since 2021,” Tengku Zafrul said during the question-and-answer session in Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday.
He said that there are two FTA negotiations still pending, namely Malaysia’s negotiations with the European Union (EU) countries, postponed since 2012; and with the Republic of Korea, postponed since 2019.
“Malaysia remains open to entering into an FTA with the Republic of Korea, and is studying the direction of negotiations, taking into account the benefits to the country,” the minister added.
Regarding the Malaysia-EU Free Trade Agreement (MEUFTA), Tengku Zafrul said that Malaysia is conducting a scoping exercise with the EU, to determine the gaps in the positions and stances of the two countries. This will provide direction to ensure that any negotiations consider the costs and benefits to the country.
Additionally, he also revealed ongoing negotiations for a new investment guarantee agreement (IGA) with Qatar, which commenced in 2022.
Malaysia has thus far enforced 16 FTAs and 62 IGAs, Tengku Zafrul said.
He emphasised that Malaysia adopts an open approach to any FTA and IGA negotiation opportunities with trading partner countries, with negotiations needing to take into account the costs and benefits to the country as a whole, and the benefits to the country for the long term.