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Malaysia not in a hurry to wrap up deal


March 28, 2008

Malaysia not in a hurry to wrap up deal

Malaysia is not rushing to sign a free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States as there are outstanding issues to be resolved by both sides, International Trade and Industry Minister Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted as telling national news agency Bernama Thursday.

"Of course, the US may want to pursue and see how best we can reconcile but there are certain things which we will have to work out," he said. “We will take our time," he told reporters after launching the Malaysia-Vietnam Economic Conference 2008 here.

The important thing, he said, was to make sure that the agreement could provide long-term benefits to the government and businesses.

“Of course, it will benefit the partner as well but importantly, benefits to Malaysia that include economic growth for the country, enabling the people to expand businesses overseas and ensuring that the parties involved in our
economic development will not be adversely effected by certain arrangements," he said.

Asked whether the formal FTA talks with the US will continue, the minister said: “We will see. The US tries to save time. But we have to work things out."

US Assistant Trade Representative for Southeast Asia, Barbara Weisel, was reported as saying last Tuesday that US hoped that Malaysia will continue pushing for a conclusion to the FTA negotiations.

Weisel said the US and Malaysia had made solid progress when negotiations resumed last January after their failure to conclude talks last year due to several contentious issues, including the Malaysian government's procurement policy. The US wanted to conclude an FTA by the middle of this year, she said.

“The US can set the time but we have to see whether that is convenient or not. Of course, if we need to sit down, we’ll talk with them,” Muhyiddin said. He also said that Malaysia was looking to have more FTAs with other countries. "We are, but it's a matter of time," he added.

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