Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia gives equal emphasis to two trade pacts – Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – as both are important for Malaysia to be involved in, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said.
He said although the deadline to wrap up RCEP was set at the end of the year, there were some challenges being faced.
“There may be be spillover into 2016 due to challenges including different levels of economic development among countries involved and different levels of ambitions.
“There are also (RCEP) countries that did not have free-trade agreement with another country and some just have bilateral or regional level trade agreements,” Mustapha told a press conference after conducting site visit of the venue for the Asean Economic Ministers meeting which starts tomorrow (sat) at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.
RCEP involves the 10 Asean member nations and six free-trade agreement (FTA) partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
It is considered a major platform to forge closer economic integration by removing barriers to trade and investments and providing a dynamic business environment in the participating countries.
The US-led TPP is into eight years in the making and has faced criticism for carrying out their negotiations “in secrecy.”
The TPP involved Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, Vietnam and the United States.
Malaysia has concluded negotiations with most of the TPP countries, who, in turn, have agreed to provide good market access for Malaysian products into countries that do not have free-trade agreements with, namely, the United States, Canada, Mexico and Peru.
Mustapa said RCEP would provide a future boost for the four Asean countries in the TPP negotiations.
He said ministers from RCEP countries would meet here next week before negotiators meet in Busan, South Korea in October.