November 18, 2006
Malaysia Starts FTA Negotiations With Chile
HANOI, Nov 18 (Bernama) — Malaysia is starting Free Trade Agreement (FTA) talks with Chile, which will pave the way to turn the latter as the launch pad for the country’s exports to Latin American markets of 550 million people and worth US$298 billion.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Chilean president, Michele Bachelet, announced the start of the negotiations Saturday after their bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the 14th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders summit in the Vietnamese capital.
The two-day APEC leaders meeting, held at the National Convention Centre here, ends Sunday.
If the talks culminated in the signing of an FTA, it would be the first for Malaysia with a Latin American country.
The FTA talks sprung from a bilateral meeting between Abdullah and former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos during the 2005’s Apec summit in Busan, South Korea.
Both leaders then agreed to undertake a joint study on the feasibility of a Malaysia-Chile FTA arrangement.
"The FTA has the potential to increase trade, investments cross flows and economic cooperation between the two countries," said a statement issued by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry.
Chile, Malaysia’s third largest trading partner in Latin America, currently has the upper hand in terms of bilateral trade which stood at RM893.5 million in 2005 (RM883 million in 2004).
The trade balance was in Chile’s favour at RM235.7 million with Malaysia’s exports to Chile at RM328.9 million against imports which totaled RM564.6 million.
Apart from the FTA talks with Chile, Malaysia is currently engaged in FTA negotiations with 14 of the Apec members either bilaterally or through Asean.
After the Malaysia-Chile bilateral meeting, the Prime Minister had a brief meeting with the president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce, Thomas Donahue.
On Sunday, he would hold bilaterals with New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark and Vietnamese president Nguyen Minh Triet.
Abdullah would leave for Kuala Lumpur immediately after the conclusion of the APEC Summit