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Malaysia to seal free trade deal with UAE by June, minister says

Arab News - 27 February 2024

Malaysia to seal free trade deal with UAE by June, minister says

Malaysia expects to conclude a free trade agreement with the UAE by the end of June, the country’s trade minister said, adding the deal could boost investment in Malaysia by the Gulf state’s sovereign wealth funds.

The countries started negotiations over a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement last year.

“We are in the last round of discussions,” Malaysian Trade Minister Tengku Zafrul told Reuters on Tuesday in an interview at a World Trade Organization meeting in Abu Dhabi.

Following the agreement, Malaysia hopes that the UAE will invest in its energy, digital economy, electric vehicle and chip sectors. Mubadala Investment Co., one of Abu Dhabi’s three sovereign wealth funds, is already an investor in Malaysia.

The UAE, a small but influential nation on the Arabian Peninsula, has signed a series of bilateral free trade agreements in recent years, including with India and Israel. As well as removing traditional tariffs on goods and services, deals have included preferential investment clauses.

Tengku Zafrul said the trade deal could lead to Malaysia becoming a hub for UAE investments in Asia.

He said there had been no progress on a broader free trade agreement between ASEAN and the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

Tengku Zafrul said Malaysia was talking with the EU for free trade agreement but cautioned that momentum behind a US-led Indo-Pacific agreement had slowed down.

“I’m not too optimistic if Trump comes in,” he said of this year’s US presidential election, citing the US abandoning another Pacific trade deal under former President Donald Trump.

 source: Arab News