AFX News Limited
Malaysia, Japan fail to break FTA deadlock over autos, steel - official
KUALA LUMPUR (AFX) - Malaysian and Japanese officials have yet to resolve differences over the auto and steel sectors which are seen as major obstacles to progress towards a free trade agreement (FTA), Agence France-Presse reported, citing an official familiar with the talks.
’Nothing has been concluded,’ the official said. The talks began yesterday and were due to end today.
A new round of talks may resume in Japan next month, he said, adding that the two countries will have to come up with a new set of proposals.
Earlier this month, Japan and Malaysia agreed to reach a basic agreement by the end of May, but the two countries remain divided on the auto sector as Malaysia is reluctant to review its policy to protect its domestic industry.
They are also trying to narrow differences in such areas as auto parts, steel and investment and services, the official said.
The two governments, which started talks on an FTA in January last year, have so far worked out the framework of free trade rules in agricultural and marine products.
When Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz met her Japanese counterpart Shoichi Nakagawa last month, she expressed hope the two countries will formally sign an FTA in December.
Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is due to visit Tokyo on May 25-26.