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Malaysia still fine-tuning issues related to FTA with US

Bernama, Malaysia

Malaysia Still Fine-tuning Issues Related To FTA With US

8 March 2007

KUALA LUMPUR, March 8 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi says Malaysia is still fine tuning issues arising from negotiations to clinch a free trade agreement with the United States with the ultimate objective of bringing benefits to the people and the country.

"The most important thing is that we want to ensure we will achieve what is best for Malaysia, it is not off, " he said when asked on the FTA which would largely be positive for Malaysia but still criticised by some quarters that it would only benefit Washington.

Malaysia and the US have held various rounds of negotiations in the past one year with the latest being in Kota Kinabalu last month.

A total of 18 issues are being negotiated in the FTA and these include industrial goods, textiles and clothing, Customs procedures, intellectual property rights, agriculture, financial services, telecommunications, the environment and investment.

When asked if the FTA did not work out, would it be a big deal for Malaysia, Abdullah, who is also the Finance Minister, said: "We will talk about it when it happens."

Asked if he was pessimistic on the FTA being achieved, he said: "I am not saying anything on pessimism and optimism but the fact is that we are able to go through a lot of these issues and we have our own views on what needs to be done."

Malaysia has taken the stand that there is no time frame for conclusion of the FTA negotiations but the US hopes for the agreement to be sealed by July this year.