Tengku Zafrul says Malaysia needs more free trade agreements in the ASEAN region to boost domestic economy

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 — Malaysia is considering increasing the number of free trade agreements (FTAs) as they play an important role in the Malaysian economy, said Datuk Seri Tunku Zafrul. Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry Abdul Aziz said.

The minister, who is part of an official delegation to Australia for a special summit with Asean countries, told business news channel CNBC that FTAs ​​are important for countries like Malaysia, whose economies are less open.

“We’ve seen how it has contributed positively to trade growth, so that’s important, but also important from what we’ve seen today, especially within Asean itself, That means we need to increase it.”

He said the meeting in Melbourne was crucial in terms of trade and investment for the country to build networks.

“For example, we have four FTAs ​​with Australia. As you know, we have the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). “We have the US-Malaysia-Australia FTA. We also have the Australia-New Zealand-ASEAN FTA and one of the two major multilateral agreements we have with the CPTPP,” he said.

Regarding the CPTPP, Mr Zafrul said that at the previous meeting in New Zealand, it was agreed to consider new entrants based on the Auckland Principles to maintain the CPTPP’s gold standard.

“I think there are about six countries that are applying for membership today, and they have to meet the Auckland Principles, which, by the way, have to meet the criteria set out in the CPTPP. And the newest member states are: “The United Kingdom, of course.

“So Malaysia has no problem with any country applying to join the CPTPP. But of course, as you know, it is based on consensus, so all member states agree you need to,” he said.

In the interview, Zafrul also touched on Malaysia’s relations with China and the US, saying the government has consistently said it will remain neutral as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

“I think Malaysia has always reiterated its position as a neutral country that is friendly to both the United States and China. As you know, both countries are important when it comes to trade and investment.”

“For Malaysia, China and the US are the top two countries for trade and investment. I think this will continue in the future. And recently, investment in Malaysia from both China and the US has been increasing,” he said. said.

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