Tuesday, July 5

‘Malaysia-Australia FTA on track despite Lynas issue’

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KUALA LUMPUR: The issue of the Lynas rare earth plant will not disrupt the proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations between Malaysia and Australia, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The trade pact between Kuala Lumpur and Canberra is expected to be signed in May this year.

“Not only the FTA, but the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI), is also unaffected. It’s separate from the Lynas issue and the Malaysia-Australia FTA is on track.

“I will be meeting my Australian counterpart in few days time.

“On the FDI, there are some companies following the Lynas issue, but so far my ministry has yet to receive any negative feedback. Malaysia continues to be a preferred investment destination for many countries,” Mustapa said.

He was speaking to reporters after unveiling the wide range of maritime industry-related services offered by T.A.G Marine Sdn Bhd, here yesterday.

The plan by Australian mining giant,Lynas Corp, to open its rare earth refinery in Kuantan has caused an uproar in the country.

Critics claim that the project worth about RM700 million is hazardous to health.

The government on its part has announced the setting up of a Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Lynas plant to seek scientific and factual feedback from stakeholders like
regulators, as well as other relevant groups, and is slated to deliver its findings to Parliament by June.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has also given an assurance that the government will not think twice of scrapping the project if there is scientific proof that it is hazardous.

Commenting on this, Mustapa said the proposed PSC must be given time to perform and reaffirmed the ministry’s commitment to continue engaging with various groups on this issue.

“We stand by our opinion that the project has not been proven to be harmful.

“The government however, understands the concerns raised by Malaysians, and that is why we have come up with this initiative,” he said. — Bernama