KUALA LUMPUR, 30 Oct 2008: Malaysia may be able to maintain its projected export growth next year in spite of current market conditions because of opportunities in India and China.
International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said growth would also be possible because of an increase in intra-Asean regional trade.
“The prospects for exports will also depend on developments in the global economy especially in view of the current financial crisis in the US and the slowdown in global growth,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters after officiating at the International Symposium on EAFTA, CEPEA, FTAAP and Beyond organised by the Japan Economic Forum and the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia.
Muhyiddin said the failed Doha Round of trade negotiations were still relevant for Asean and Malaysia.
“At the officials’ level, there are discussions to make sure it is still alive,” he said.
Earlier, in his opening address, Muhyiddin said the widest construction of a free trade agreement (FTA) was preferred because it would maximise trade creation and minimise trade-distortion effects.
“The idea of having a regional trading arrangement, which will bring together countries from both sides of the Pacific, must be welcomed.
“In reality, this needs to be moderated by practicial factors,” he said.
“As you are aware, economic integration efforts require huge commitments by countries. There are demands on negotiation capacity and financial resources,” he said.
Muhyiddin warned smaller developing countries of spreading themselves too thin.
“Embarking on large and ambitious economic integration initiatives could be futile if, in the end, they cannot be concluded.
“It is important to convince the world that expanding trade through economic integration is one of the ways to restore global economic growth,” he said.
He suggested a stock take be taken of all the different FTAs in the region, and their impact on businesses.
“The stock-take can also identify the readiness of businesses for a single region-wide FTA.” — Bernama