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Malaysia to consider FTA with US if TPPA does not materialise, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will consider a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the US if the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement (TPPA) fails to materilaise.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said at present, Malaysia and the US are committed to continuing with the dialogue in discussing trade and investment issues, via the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.

“In respect of the TPPA, the Malaysian delegation and I had a dialogue with members of the US Congress and urged them to stick with the TPPA members to make the agreement a success.

“If it does not materialise, I have proposed that the TPPA model be incorporated into a bilateral agreement such as a FTA, which has been postponed since 2008,” he added.

Najib said this when answering a question from Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) on the outcome of his visit to the US in September.

President Donald Trump signed an executive order for the US to officially withdraw from the TPPA negotiations in January this year.

Trump cancelled the negotiations in describing it as killing the jobs of US workers and not in the interest of the country.

Meanwhile, Najib said the US is Malaysia’s third largest trading partner with total trade at RM135.9 billion in 2016.

He also said his working visit to the US was on the invitation of Trump and aimed at strengthening bilateral relations between both nations.

“The aspect of investments and bilateral trade was a key component of my visit to the US. It is being  emphasised, as the US administration led by Trump, is seen as having a different view in respect of the economy, trade and investments as practiced previously.

“The US represents the world’s largest economic power and Malaysia as a country that practices open trade will be affected if it adopts a protectionist trade stance, making it difficult to access that country’s market,” added Najib.

He said Malaysia had taken proactive steps by offering a value proposition to the US via an increase in investments by the Employees Provident Fund and Khazanah Nasional Bhd, as well as cooperation between Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB) and Boeing.

Najib stressed that the investment towards the purchase of aircraft from Boeing was made by the management of MAB without any political interference.

“This matter was recently clarified by the former MAB chief executive officer, Peter Bellew and that it was in line with the company’s transformation plan,” he said. — Bernama