ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
Malaysia-EU free trade agreement needs to be inked
THE European Commissioner For Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom has called for a speedy conclusion to the Malaysia-European Union (EU) free trade agreement (FTA).
She said this is to not only foster bilateral trade but also use Malaysia as a springboard to the wider Southeast Asian market.
Negotiations between Malaysia and the EU started in 2010, making good progress on almost all the issues on the table, but had to pause two years ago, after the negotiating parties were unable to resolve some difficult issues. “That’s unfortunate, in my view,” Malmstrom said in her speech during a meeting with the Malaysian and European business communities yesterday.
She added: “We have an excellent opportunity right in front of us. It would be a shame to waste it.”
The trade commissioner is in Kuala Lumpur to join the annual meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers in conjunction with the two-day 26th ASEAN Summit which kick started yesterday.
Malmstrom said a deal with Malaysia will not only mean better access to ASEAN, but also a way to connect more deeply with the Asian regional value chain. “With an ambitious deal in place, we see no reason why Malaysia can’t be a base for the operations of European companies across the region.
“However, both sides must make clear that they are serious about this ambitious deal and prepare to do their part to conclude.
“If we do restart the negotiations, then we need to know that both sides are ready to do a deal. There’s no point getting bogged down on the same issues for a second time,” she said. “We simply want a deal that creates real economic value for both sides... a deal that will give new opportunities to Malaysians and Europeans,” she added.
She urged workers, consumers, civil society and other interest groups to have a voice on how this trade deal is designed.
She said businesses have a responsibility to show governments of both sides the kinds of opportunities that the deal could create for Europe and Malaysia. “Your voice is crucial to advocate for what is needed to conclude this agreement,” she said.
The EU is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner and Malaysia is the EU’s second largest trading partner in the region.
Bilateral trade between Malaysia and the EU stood at 34 billion euros in 2014.
Malaysia is a growing source of foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the EU at 14 billion euros and is the second source of FDI among ASEAN countries.
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