July 27, 2006
New Zealand Optimistic Of Sealing FTA With M’sia Soon
By Tengku Noor Shamsiah
KUALA LUMPUR, July 27 (Bernama) — New Zealand is optimistic of concluding a Free Trade Agreement with Malaysia soon, its foreign minister, Winston Peters, said today.
"Malaysia and New Zealand have made a lot of progress at the sixth round (of negotiations). There are only three outstanding issues," he told Bernama in an interview, here Thursday.
"I suppose the one (where) we can make progress on is the issue of services and, if this is put forward, I think the FTA with Malaysia is highly possible," he said.
Asked if this could be done by the end of the year, Peters said: "We better go into this with optimism."
Given the collapse of the Doha Round of the world trade talks, the FTA would be an alternative for both countries to strengthen economic cooperation, said Peters, who is here to attend New Zealand’s annual dialogue with Asean as well as the 13th Asean Regional Forum (ARF) meeting on security in the Asia-Pacific region.
Saying that Malaysia and New Zealand have a long-standing bilateral relationship, he said an FTA would serve as a significant step forward by advancing trade liberalisation under an open and sustainable economic development framework.
An FTA would also identify a framework and processes and disciplines for pursuing bilateral concerns, increase the scope for productive long-term partnerships between New Zealand and Malaysian business, he said.
It would also underpin their leading role in multilateral and regional trade initiatives, he said.
The FTA would facilitate trade in services between the two countries by reducing regulatory barriers, improving market access, and encouraging mutual recognition of qualifications, he said.
In addition to supporting improved two-way investment flows, an FTA between Malaysia and New Zealand would signal greater certainty and economic stability for investors from other countries, he added.