Liberalisation will facilitate US-M’sia FTA talks

Bernama | 7 May 2009

Liberalisation Will Facilitate US-M’sia FTA Talks

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 (Bernama) — Liberalisation of the financial sector will facilitate the free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations between Malaysia and the United States, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said today.

He is hopeful that some progress in the services sector will further facilitate the negotiations between the two countries.

Last month, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced a package for the financial sector liberalisation, which included the issuance of new licences for seven banks and two takaful players from this year till 2011.

Also included is flexibility in foreign equity limits, rising from 49 percent to 70 percent, to be accorded for investment banks, Islamic banks, insurance companies and takaful operators.

"Hopefully, later in the year, we will be in a position to resume negotiations. But it depends on both sides," Mustapa said after the opening ceremony of the 6th International Halal Showcase 2009 here.

Since March 2006, several rounds of negotiations alternating between Washington and Kuala Lumpur had been held.

Mustapa, who is new to the ministry, said he was taking "stock" of the negotiation.

"I am new in this, I need to touch base with my counterpart," he said.

"A number of domestic challenges that we got to address, chief among which the government procurement. We got to do some stock-taking and updating our stand on this issue," he added.

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source: Bernama