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Malaysia-US FTA dialogue still stalled

Sin Chew, Malaysia

Malaysia-US FTA dialogue still stalled

11 November 2009

SINGAPORE, Nov 11 (Bernama) — The dialogue between Malaysia and the United States on the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), stalled since the middle of last year, has seen no new development, said the Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Mustapa Mohamed.

He said that on the part of the United States, there was still no clear trade policies and from the time Barack Obama became President.

"Maybe Obama wants to use the ASEAN-United States meeting this Sunday, to provide a picture of his trade policy. I am unsure," said Mustapa when asked by reporters upon arrival last night to attend the Ministerial level meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) here today.

He said that if Obama provided a clearer picture, Malaysia can then use it as a guide in further discussions with the United States on the FTA.

"But to date, there are no signs of the discussions being reactivated," he said.

He added that the United States had already concluded a FTA with South Korea two years ago.

Discussions on the FTA between Malaysia and the United States stalled over a number of issues such as the question of the securing of government contracts and the FTA’s one-sided implications, which did not benefit Malaysian trade as well as local entrepreneurs.

Mustapa said the meeting between Obama and heads of ASEAN nations, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for the first time, will provide new direction for not just relations between the regional grouping and the United States but for Malaysia as well.

He pointed out that relations between ASEAN and the United States was very important as members of the grouping had significant trade with that country.