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US-Malaysia negotiations continue


June 25, 2008

Thailand seeks to resume FTA talks with US; US-Malaysia negotiations continue
A group of senior Thai government officials has been assigned to seek ways and means to revive the suspended Thailand-United States Free Trade Area (FTA) agreements left undone since the bloodless coup in 2006, according to the Thai Government Spokesman.

Spokesman Wichianchote Sukachotirat said the cabinet on Tuesday approved the return to the FTA trade negotiations between Thailand and the United States, the kingdom's biggest trading partner, to which the senior government officials will formulate an unofficial mechanism to exchange views and information on trade issues in order to promote and expand bilateral trade and investment as well as other shared concerns between the two countries.

The Thai government's latest move towards the resumption of FTA talks apparently followed a recent trade talk between Permanent Secretary for Commerce Siriphol Yodmuangcharoen and Barbara Wiesel, Assistant US Trade Representative in Washington.

Thailand Hotel
The trade negotiatons began in 2003, but have been stalled at times due to major areas of contention, including patent protection for US pharmaceutical products.

Meanwhile, the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between Malaysia and the United States are continuing though some issues remain to be resolved, Malaysia state news agency Bernama quoted Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Liew Vui Keong as saying Tuesday. He said the FTA negotiations are expected to resume next month from July 14 to 18.

"The coming discussions are aimed at resolving the various outstanding issues," he said at a question-and-answer session in the Lower House of Parliament sitting in response to a question from a member of parliament Mukhriz Dr Mahathir.

Liew said since the last meeting in January this year, both parties continued to negotiate through videoconferencing and the technical terms were still being discussed.

Among the issues which remained unresolved was the US insistence to include discussions on government procurement and competition policy, he said.

At present, he added, Malaysia was sticking to its stand not to discuss the competition policy and those related to the New Economic Policy and Bumiputera agenda.

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