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Malaysia keen on resuming FTA talks with US

The Star, Malaysia

Malaysia keen on resuming FTA talks with US

By Lisa Goh and Mazwin Nik Anis

7 November 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is looking forward to resuming the stalled Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks with the incoming US administration.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdul­lah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak both expressed the hope that President-elect Barack Obama would ensure that the negotiations be conducted in a fairer manner.

“I hope President-elect Barack Obama will see to a fairer trade agreement with Malaysia.

“We are still in discussions which have not been completed, but we hope for a better deal with the US,” Abdullah said in his speech at the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia annual dinner here yesterday.

He explained that he was not saying that the Bush Administration had been unfair, “but those handling the negotiations will know how difficult they have been.”

“I hope it will be more positive now,” he said, adding that he would like Malaysia to expand and deepen its relationship with the United States.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said Malaysia would study the policies to be introduced by Obama before deciding whether to resume the stalled FTA talks.

He said previous records showed that the Democrats, the party represented by the new president, was “more protectionist”.

“Let us wait and see. But I do hope the new US administration will see that what the world needs is not more assistance.

“The world requires a fair and just trade regime,” he said.

US-Malaysia FTA negotiations began in March 2006 and stalled during the seventh round of talks in January.

Malaysia had earlier stressed that the talks should not be restricted to any time frame, or to issues related to Malaysia’s interests and policies.

Najib said Malaysia had also stressed that adjustments and revisions of the world financial structure must be made.

On another matter, Najib said that he would talk to relevant ministries on how to go about with the privatisation of government land as an­­nounced in Parliament on Tues­day.

“The Government has identified strategic parcels of land - including the Malaysian Rubber Board land in Sungai Buloh, a piece of land in Jalan Cochrane and another in Jalan Ampang Hilir - which can be developed via open tender,” he said.