New govt to decide on trade pacts, says MITI

They have to decide whether Malaysia still wants to be in the CPTPP or not

By SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH / Pic By TMR

The International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) said the new government will have to decide on whether to pursue several of the country’s trade agreements and negotiations.

Secretary general Datuk Seri J Jayasiri (picture) said pursuing the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and other trade pacts is among the key decisions needed to be made by the new minister.

“I believe the new government is supportive of the current trade negotiations. They have to decide whether Malaysia still wants to be in the CPTPP or not, and continue with the ratification process,” he said at the SEMICON South- East Asia 2018 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Jayasiri said, thus far, only one out of the six countries required for the deal to come into force has made progress on the ratification process.

“In order for the CPTPP to come into force, it requires at least six member countries to agree. However, we have been informed that only Mexico has cleared its domestic processes and notified that they are ready to ratify,” he said.

Jayasiri, in an earlier report, said Malaysia has 17 more laws to be amended that are in different stages of preparation.

According to him, the ministry is continuing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as to the planned negotiation meetings.

“We are still pursuing the negotiations for RCEP as scheduled until further decisions are made,” he said

When asked on MITI’s status under the new government, Jayasiri said the ministry has not been informed on its prospects moving forward.

“We have yet to receive information on our tasks moving forward,” he said.

On the claim over the inaccuracy of Malaysia’s financial position and economic figures, Jayasiri said revising the trade performance is unnecessary as it is conditional to external factors.

“We cannot manipulate trade figures. Our trade performance is conditional to what is happening to the external environment, which has been showing positive signs, as well as signalling better exports for the country,” he said.

He said the local electrical and electronics (E&E) industry is expected to remain one of the major contributors to the country’s export.

“The E&E segment has been the central component for the manufacturing sector. In 2017, it represented 36.7% of the total exports, while the manufacturing sector represented 44.7%.

“We are optimistic that the E&E segment will contribute a large portion to our export in 2018,” he said.

Malaysian Investment Development Authority (Mida) CEO Datuk Azman Mahmud said the agency is looking at improving the investment incentives in order to attract more high-technology and quality projects.

“In line with growth, there will be more investments provided to capture the market,” Azman said.

In the first quarter of 2018, Mida approved RM485 million worth of domestic and foreign investments for semiconductor-related projects, located mostly in Penang.

Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International South-East Asia president Ng Kai Fai said the global semiconductor industry is expected to surpass US$500 billion (RM1.99 trillion) in revenue by 2019.

“For global growth, the semiconductor sector has been growing significantly. Last year, the industry had a watershed moment as its revenue surpassed US$400 billion, a 21% increase year-on-year.

“We believe it is going to continue growing at this momentum,” he said.

Ng added that the Internet of Things has been the main catalyst for the industry’s growth, coupled with the rise of artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.

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