Nov 22, 2012

Malaysia - M'sia to conclude Asean-India FTA by Dec

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KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia aims to conclude the Asean-India Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in the services and investment sectors by early December, says Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The participating countries are working on the purpose solutions, he said, adding that there is commitment by all leaders to settle this matter by year-end.

"We have problems with India especially with the independent professional movement on services sector while facing some challenges on investment," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Services Sector Conference, here today.

Mustapa said this when asked to update on the Asean-India FTA in the services and investment sectors which was reported to have reached a deadlock.

The minister expressed hope that the negotiation could be concluded by early December.

"We hope to come out with the agreement by the end of the year when the Asean-India Commemorative Summit 2012 is held in New Delhi," he said.

In another development, Mustapa said Malaysia will get better beneficiaries once the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership agreement (RCEP) is concluded by 2015.

The 16 countries involved in RCEP are the 10 Asean countries plus China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand, where RCEP would be a single market with over three billion people and a combined gross domestic product of US$17 trillion.

"Malaysia already has trade agreements via Asean Free Trade Agreement in countries like India, China, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Japan, and with RCEP, we believe it will be above what we have agreed before," he added.

Earlier in his speech, Mustapa said the government would liberalise more services activities in phases to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the sector.

"To date, the government has liberalised 44 services in healthcare, education, business services and professional services, as the government has foreseen that FDIs in this sector will increase significantly in the future," he said.

He added this was also in line with the government's target to increase the sector contribution to 65 per cent of national gross domestic product by 2020 from the current of 45-55 per cent.


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