Malaysia-EU FTA set to increase total trade by 20-30pc

PETALING JAYA, March 23 — The proposed Malaysia-European Union (EU) Free-Trade Agreement (FTA) is expected to boost total trade by 20 to 30 per cent from the current 10 per cent, said EU Ambassador and Head of Delegation to Malaysia Maria Castillo Fernandez.

She said this was based on the EU’s FTA with South Korea for the past five years, which rose 35 per cent.

“We (EU) have similar volume in terms of trade with Malaysia, so, certainly it will increase to that level.

“This will also create a win-win situation for both sides as we favour an open, free and sustainable trade,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the two-day ASEAN Regional Seminar on Transit and Transhipment here today.

Asked when the FTA can be concluded, Castillo said it would be before year-end based on a constructive meeting between European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed in Manila on March 10.

Meanwhile, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Chua Tee Yong said Malmström and Mustapa touched on possible areas of cooperation, particularly on small and medium enterprise development, women and youth entrepreneurship, and sectoral legislative enactments involving vegetable, oils and fats.

Addressing the seminar, which ended today, Chua said Malaysia had been at the forefront of the Strategic Trade Act (STA) 2010 implementation.

The act is an export control legislation which is an enabler to encourage more exports of strategic items.

“Malaysia’s engagement with the EU in the area of export control has expanded from involvement as a participant country to sharing best practices as an expert trainer.

“It is hoped that the seminar will enhance Malaysia’s image as a leading nation having comprehensive export control in Southeast Asia, as well as ensuring Malaysia’s compliance with international trade security obligations under the United Nations,” he said.

Chua said a bill to amend the STA 2010, which previously imposed many penalties and required Malaysia to bring cases to the courts, was tabled in Parliament last.

“There were no administrative compounds. So with the new amendments, there will be new provisions on compounding offences and improvement of enforcement powers.

“This is to safeguard Malaysia’s status as a transit and transhipment nation,” he said.

The seminar brought 35 representatives from eight ASEAN member states, namely the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, as well as 12 experts from the EU.

It is aimed at sharing experiences on strategic trade control laws in detecting, investigating and prosecuting violations of transit and transhipment regulations, strengthen regional cooperation, and discuss effective practises on challenges faced in building strategic trade controls.

The EU is Malaysia third largest trading partner with total trade in January 2017 increased 9.7 per cent to RM12.9 billion from the corresponding month a year ago.

In 2016, trade with the EU rose 0.4 per cent to RM149.1 billion.

Over the past three years in since 2014, trade performance recorded a positive trade balance of RM1.7 billion, RM9.3 billion and RM10.6 billion, respectively. — Bernama

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