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Mustapa: TPPA negotiations likely to conclude in November

Mustapa: 'Malaysia's focus is now on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which could possibly be finalised early next year, with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea and Asean as the main driver.'
SUBANG: Negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) are still ongoing and likely to see a conclusion in November this year during the Asia- Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meeting in Manila.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia remained open to proposals raised by other participating countries on the TPPA.

The trade pact was painfully negotiated over more than five years  but is now uncertain following US President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from it. The 11 countries left, including Malaysia, are still deciding the pact's future.

"Malaysia's focus is now on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which could possibly be finalised early next year, with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea and Asean as the main driver," Mustapa told reporters after officiating the Asian Strategy and and Leadership Institute's (ASLI) Third National Economic Summit in Subang on Tuesday.

To date, the participating countries in the RCEP have met a number of times, with progress towards achieving a substantial conclusion being made, and would meet again in Hyderabad next week, he said. He also said Malaysia would continue to pursue growth opportunities within Asean as it is home to a young, large working age population and growing middle class, while committed to further liberalising trade and investment regulations.

Meanwhile, on the local front, Mustapa said Malaysia's economic outlook this year had been quite positive after registering a 5.6% gross domestic product growth in the first quarter and on the back of good trade and investment numbers.

He said the World Bank had also revised upward its forecast for Malaysia's growth this year to 4.9%, while research houses such as Citibank Research had projected it to be even higher at 5.2%.

"Despite the positive buzz, the country must not lose sight of the challenges that it is facing currently to continue attracting quality investments. The challenges include tackling the increasing unemployment rate among youth which currently stood at 10%, as well as volatility in the commodities sector," Mustapa added.  

On the resolution by the European Parliament for the European Union (EU) to curb imports of palm oil, he said it was unfair and violated the global trade rules.

Mustapa said complaints to the World Trade Organisations on this issue was flagged as possible actions, but could not be lodged, until the resolution was officially adopted by the EU Commission. He added that the Cabinet had also deliberated on the issue and discussed retaliatory measures, including cancelling the purchase of French products like fighter jets and cars.

"But we have not reached that stage yet," Mustapa said.

Source: The Star Online