Selangor Journal
The Parliament building of Malaysia. — Picture by BERNAMA

16 free trade agreements, 62 bilateral investment guarantee agreements implemented to date

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Malaysia has implemented 16 free trade agreements (FTAs) and 62 bilateral investment guarantee agreements (IGAs) to date, said Investment, Trade, and Industry Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz.

Malaysia is currently negotiating new FTAs like the Malaysia-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) Economic Partnership Agreement (Meepa), an economic partnership agreement between Malaysia and EFTA members including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. This has been under negotiation since 2014.

“Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates have also announced in May 2023 the launch of negotiations on a comprehensive partnership agreement.

“(Meanwhile,) the free trade negotiations for the Asean-Canada FTA between Canada and Asean countries, including Malaysia, have been going on since 2021.

“There are two FTA negotiations that are on hold, namely Malaysia’s negotiations with European Union (EU) states, which have been suspended since 2012 and with South Korea that has been deferred since 2019,” he said during a question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Tengku Zafrul was replying to a query from Subang MP Wong Chen, who wanted to know the status of the FTA and IGA negotiations and the negotiation process, mechanisms, and negotiation periods for the agreements.

For the Malaysia-EU FTA, Malaysia is conducting a scoping exercise with the EU to assess the gap in their positions and stances and provide a path so that any negotiation undertaken would consider costs and benefits.

“Malaysia also remains open to an FTA with the Republic of Korea and is studying the direction of negotiations based on the benefits to be gained by the country,” he said.

On bilateral IGAs, Tengku Zafrul said Malaysia has been negotiating a new IGA with Qatar since 2022.

Generally, Malaysia adopts an open approach to any FTA and IGA negotiation opportunities with its trade partners, but any negotiation has to factor in the long-term costs and benefits for the country.

“Among the actions taken before starting new FTA and IGA negotiations is to conduct comprehensive studies such as a cost-benefit analysis for any proposed new negotiations.

“The period of negotiations depends on the agreement and commitment between Malaysia and its negotiating partners towards reaching an understanding for coming up with an agreement that considers all parties’ interests and benefits,” he said.

— Bernama

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