MITI: Palm oil tiff will not derail RCEP

Malaysia is ranked 12th among 190 countries in The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Report, an improvement from the 15th position in the previous year


THE trade friction with India over palm oil will not be a factor that derails the regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP).

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darrell Leiking (picture) said Malaysia is optimistic that the trade negotiations could be concluded by the end of this year. “From what I heard, when I was at the last RCEP meeting, I’m confident that it will not derail.

“Contrary to people’s opinion, India has been quite clear with what they want, and they are working together with the rest of Asean countries,” he said at the National Export Day 2019 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said the RCEP country members are expected to announce the outcome of the negotiations at the 35th Asean Summit in November.

“We are working towards a substantial conclusion. There are demands by some other countries and not by Malaysia anymore. “I believe in the next few days, they will resolve it. Whatever it is, it will be announced next week between Nov 1 and 3. We are on the right track,” he said.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between 10 member states of Asean — Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand and six partners — Australia, Japan, India, China, South Korea and New Zealand.

Its negotiation was officially mooted in November 2012 at the Asean Summit.

Speaking elaborately about the tiff with India, Darrell said his delegate will be engaging with India’s Commerce and Industry Ministry to facilitate the discussion and find an amicable solution over the matter.

“On my part, we are continuously engaging with India and other countries to increase the purchase of our palm oil.

“I hope to meet my counterpart, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal, to get more details on the issue and what they are planning to do.

“Palm oil trade cannot be stopped just like that because it affects a lot of people, not just Malaysians, but those who are trading the global market including India,” he said.

He added that the government has yet to receive an official note from India that could force the former to impose any serious measures on the possible ban.

“We will leave it at that first and look at resolving any matters regarding this, but I’m very certain that the Primary Industries Ministry is on it.

“As Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said, it was the private sector that made the demand and we have yet to hear from the Indian government,” he said.

Earlier this week, Mumbai-based Solvent Extractor’s Association president Atul Chaturvedi had reportedly advised its members to halt palm oil trading with Malaysia to support New Delhi’s protest against Dr Mahathir’s remarks on the Jammu-Kashmir situation at the 74th United Nations General Assembly.

Meanwhile, Darrell announced that Malaysia is ranked 12th among 190 countries in The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Report, an improvement from the 15th position in the previous year.

The report surveys the regulations on governing business activities among economies and ranks them according to their ease of facilitating businesses.

Darrell said the improvement in Malaysia’s ranking signals the effectiveness of the collaboration and commitment between the public and private sectors in facilitating the domestic business ecosystem.

“Malaysia’s improved performance in the Doing Business 2020 Report attests that the ongoing reform initiatives are on the right track to enhance competitiveness and productivity in the ease of doing business, which will accelerate the national economic development and prosperity,” he said.