Malaysia-Korea FTA: We’re Still Negotiating – Tengku Zafrul

Tengku Zafrul said the ministry will ensure that Malaysia’s interests are always preserved in all free trade agreement negotiations. Photo by Tengku Zafrul’s Facebook

KUALA LUMPUR, Mar 27Investment, trade, and industry minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz has reminded his predecessor Azmin Ali that the Malaysia-Korea free trade agreement (MKFTA) is still in negotiation.

He said comments on whether the terms of the agreement would be beneficial to Malaysia should only be made once the negotiation had been finalised.

“If it’s not beneficial to Malaysia, we will not finalise the free trade agreement.

“God willing, the ministry will ensure that Malaysia’s interests are always preserved in all free trade agreement negotiations,” Tengku Zafrul said in a Facebook post.

Yesterday, Azmin panned the resumption of the MKFTA, which he said would leave Malaysia at a disadvantage as it would have to remove duties on substantially more goods than South Korea.

Tengku Zafrul said the ministry will ensure that Malaysia’s interests are always preserved in all free trade agreement negotiations. Photo by Tengku Zafrul’s Facebook

He called on the investment, trade, and industry ministry to conduct a cost-benefit analysis and make it publicly available before deciding on the agreement’s resumption.

Azmin, who is also Hulu Kelang assemblyman, said that under the existing Asean-Korea free trade agreement, to which Malaysia is already a party, South Korea had already agreed to eliminate duties on 91% of its tariff lines, and Malaysia on 83.5% of its tariff lines.

He said the MKFTA’s stipulated liberalisation threshold of 92% would force Malaysia to compensate with more removal of duties than South Korea, which only needed to improve on about 1% of its offers.

Meanwhile, Tengku Zafrul said that Azmin’s statement seemed to show the latter’s lack of confidence with the civil servants’ professionalism in negotiating the free trade agreement.

He said his officers would usually study the advantages and disadvantages of a free trade agreement before conducting any negotiations.

“If it doesn’t benefit Malaysia, why would we resume negotiations?”


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