KUALA LUMPUR: The affirmative action taken by the government which is merit-based and the free trade agreements (FTAs) signed with several countries, are proof that Malaysia is not a protectionist country, says Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
He said under the country’s New Economic Model (NEM), the third objective was about inclusiveness whereby decisions are made on merit base – a policy practiced in other Asian countries as well and not only in Malaysia.
“The new approach to our affirmative action is merit based and this will ensure Malaysia continues to be a competitive nation moving forward,” he said at a press conference held in conjunction with the Second Forbes CEO Conference here yesterday.
Mustapa was responding to a question on whether Malaysia would be able to retain its competitiveness while maintaining ‘protectionism’.
Malaysia recently moved up to the 21st position in the Global Competitiveness Report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) from the 26th position last year.
Mustapa pointed out that there was no protectionism when it came to free trade agreements with its trade partners such as Asean.
“We are now talking to nine countries on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement including United States and we are also discussing with the European Union on a possible FTA.
“It clearly shows that Malaysia is a very open economy and not a protectionist economy,” he added.
To date, Malaysia has signed FTAs with Japan, Pakistan, New Zealand and Chile while with Asean as a group, it has FTAs with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
On the progress of the TPP talks, he said negotiations had entered the eighth round, where discussions had been on specifics and details of issues such as the kind of tariffs, the sectors to be opened up and also matters related to Malaysia’s financial industry.
“Our people are now in Chicago for the eighth round of negotiations.
“It is a very comprehensive partnership, (with) negotiations covering every sector including government procurement.
“Malaysia has constructive role in this negotiation,” he added.
Malaysia is the latest member in the TPP, which also includes Australia, Brunei, Chile, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.
The latest negotiations would be expected to end this September 14, while the next round, scheduled to be held in Lima, Peru, would kick off in the last week of October. — Bernama