KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) participating countries (RPCs), including Malaysia, are expected to proceed with the signing of the agreement in November, according to International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.
He pointed out that the trade and industry ministers of RPCs had agreed to do this at the virtual 10th RCEP Inter-sessional Ministerial Meeting on June 23.
RCEP is set to be the largest regional free trade agreement covering almost half of the world’s population and contributing one-third of the global Gross Domestic Product.
“Malaysia acknowledges that India’s participation would contribute to regional trade prosperity. Therefore, Malaysia has an open stance in the event of India deciding to return to the negotiating table,” Mohamed Azmin said in his speech during the winding-up debate on the royal decree at the Dewan Rakyat here today.
In November last year, India decided to withdraw from the trade agreement following concerns that the deal might hurt its domestic industry.
Mohamed Azmin said his ministry, along with the Attorney General’s Chambers and the relevant ministries, were actively conducting engagement sessions with all stakeholders, including state governments, on the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
CPTPP, which began life as the United States-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership, entered into force on December 30, 2018, among the first six countries that ratified it — Australia, Japan, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand and Singapore. It entered force for Vietnam on January 14 last year.
According to Mohamed Azmin, the Malaysian cabinet had agreed to ratify the CPTPP pact on September 5, 2018, without setting a deadline for it.
“Hence the government needs to ensure that any decision related to CPTPP must balance the needs and interests of the country and local industries with those of foreign investors,” he said.
Meanwhile, Mohamed Azmin said Malaysia’s total trade rose to RM1.835 trillion in 2019 from RM1.463 billion in 2015 while trade surplus widened to RM137.39 billion — 1.5 times larger than the RM91.58 billion recorded in 2015.
According to the 2019 external trade statistics released by his ministry earlier this year, total trade contracted by 2.5 per cent compared with 2018 but trade surplus grew 11 per cent year-on-year.
Mohamed Azmin said as of May 31, 2020, the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) had provided investment facilitation services to 86 foreign and local companies operating in China that were keen to relocate their business activities to Malaysia.
“Of this, Mida has succeeded in attracting 32 projects with investments worth RM17.5 billion. Twenty-eight projects (RM8.36 billion) have been approved while the other four (RM9.14 billion) are undergoing the assessment process,” he added. — Bernama