Malaysia mulls FTA with GCC countries

Bernama, Malaysia

Malaysia Mulls FTA With GCC Countries

22 March 2007

DUBAI, March 22 (Bernama) — International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said Malaysia is considering discussing free trade agreement (FTA) with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

"We are looking into it and waiting for the GCC to come back to us," she said during a question-and-answer session at a seminar on Malaysia-United Arab Emirates Business Opportunities, here Thursday.

She said that if both parties agreed on the framework to be covered for the agreement, discussions could commence.

The GCC comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Omar, Qatar and the UAE.

Rafidah said this in response to a question whether Malaysia could have a FTA with the UAE.

The minister is leading a 80-member trade and investment mission to the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier, in her reply to a question regarding Malaysia-US FTA negotiations, she reiterated that negotiations were market-driven with the private sectors contributing to it considerably.

She also pointed out that non-negotiable issues like Malaysian government policies were totally left out of the negotiations.

"No country can tell us to change our policy, or how to run our country," she said to applause from the some 250 participants comprising mostly businessmen from Dubai.

She said that issues touched were only those that would mutually benefit both countries.

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