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Malaysia Welcomes Push For Asia-Pacific Free Trade Zone

[ 26-05-2014 ]
Malaysia Welcomes Push For Asia-Pacific Free Trade Zone
KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 (Bernama) -- Malaysia has welcomed China's initiative to further advance APEC Leaders' mandate on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) to achieve deeper regional economic integration.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia supports a feasibility study on the FTAAP, seeing it as a useful analytical tool to evaluate not only the potential benefits, but also the impact, challenges and readiness of economies to meet the high standards envisaged in the FTAAP.

"We are very supportive of the initiative to develop a roadmap for the FTAAP and of the decision to task officials to finalise this roadmap by the end of this year," said Mustapa in a statement today.

However, he added, the initiative does not imply that negotiations on the FTAAP would be launched immediately after the study is completed.

Mustapa said the FTAAP would not be inconsistent with Malaysia's participation in the ongoing negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The TPP and RCEP are recognised as building blocks towards the FTAAP, he said, adding that the FTAAP, when realised, would provide synergy and complement TPP and RCEP initiatives.

"In all the on-going regional trade agreement (RTA)/free trade agreement (FTA) undertakings, Malaysia's participation would enable us to remain engaged and contribute to the shaping of the evolving regional trading arrangements," he added.

This, Mustapa said, would enable Malaysia to advance its economic interests and ensure that such initiatives would contribute towards trade, economic growth and the creation of employment opportunities, and benefit Malaysian consumers.

To translate the FTAAP's vision into reality, APEC Trade Ministers have agreed to kick off and advance the process in a comprehensive and systematic manner towards its eventual realisation, he said.

"APEC will intensify efforts to enhance transparency among regional RTAs/FTAs, strengthen capacity building activities and formulate a roadmap for APEC's contribution to the realisation of the FTAAP," said Mustapa.