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Table FTA document in Parliament for debate - backbencher

Bernama, Malaysia

Table FTA Document In Parliament For Debate - Backbencher

20 March 2007

KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 (Bernama) — A backbencher today called for the Malaysia-US Free Trade Agreement (FTA) document to be tabled in Parliament to be debated.

Datuk Markiman Kobiran (BN-Hulu Langat) said the Government must explain to the people the contentious issues being negotiated in the FTA talks as many Malaysians are of the view that the pact would have a negative impact on the country.

He said the International Trade and Industry Ministry must explain the issues at stake through special columns in the newspapers and via information sessions on radio and television, he said when debating the motion on the royal address.

Markiman said the explanation was crucial as many Malaysians did not understand what the FTA was all about and how the negotiations are progressing.

He said the people’s anxiety on the FTA stemmed from the failed negotiations in Mexico where the agreement purportedly favoured the US.

"The reality is Malaysia cannot avoid from signing a FTA with any country including the US as the world is heading towards a free market," he said.

Malaysia and the US have held five rounds of talks so far but negotiations have bogged down over 58 unresolved issues. No further rounds have been scheduled between the US and its 10th largest trading partner.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz insisted after last month’s round that the talks would continue and that both sides were trying to resolve outstanding obstacles informally.

Markiman urged Rafidah to discuss the FTA with members of parliament.

"The FTA negotiations should not be concluded based on the thinking of a selective few but with the overall participation of Malaysians," he added.