Washington, DC –
U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman today announced the Administration’s
intent to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Malaysia, with the goal of
removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers and expanding trade between the
Portman made the announcement on Capitol Hill and was joined by Malaysia’s
Minister of Trade Rafidah Aziz and a bipartisan group of leaders in Congress.
The negotiations will begin after the expiration of a 90-day consultation period
with the U.S. Congress.
"Malaysia has been at the forefront of the economic dynamism transforming
Asia in recent years," Portman said. "It already is our tenth largest trading
partner, with $44 billion in two-way trade in 2005. Combined with a new trade
opening agreement, Malaysia’s rapidly growing economy will help generate
meaningful export opportunities for our workers, service providers, and
"This FTA would be the third we are negotiating in the economically vibrant
and strategically important Southeast Asia region and will advance the
President’s Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative," said Ambassador Portman. "Removing
trade and investment barriers between our two nations will improve market
access, enhance competitiveness and increase prosperity for both countries."
"Bipartisanship is paramount in international trade, and I’m pleased to see
leaders in Congress who are both Republicans and Democrats supporting today’s
launch," Portman added. "USTR will continue its intensive bipartisan
consultations throughout the negotiations."
The United States is Malaysia’s largest trading partner and the largest
foreign investor in Malaysia. U.S. exports to Malaysia totaled $10.5 billion in
2005, with top export categories including electrical machinery, machinery,
optic and medical instruments, aircraft, and plastic. The largest categories of
imports from Malaysia were electrical machinery, machinery, furniture and
bedding, rubber, and optic and medical instruments. Malaysia is also a valuable
partner in the ongoing global trade negotiations, commonly known as the WTO Doha
Development Agenda. And Malaysia is an important player, particularly with
respect to strengthening the protection of intellectual property rights, in the
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
U.S. Trade Agenda
The United States is working to open markets globally in the Doha WTO
negotiations; regionally through the APEC forum and the Free Trade Area of the
Americas (FTAA) negotiations; and bilaterally with FTAs. Since 2001, FTAs with
Australia, Chile, Jordan, Morocco and Singapore have entered into force. The
Bush Administration has also concluded negotiations with Bahrain, Costa Rica,
the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Oman, Peru
and Colombia. Negotiations are under way or about to begin with ten more
countries: Ecuador, the Republic of Korea, Panama, the five nations of the
Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
New and pending FTA partners, taken together, would constitute America’s third
largest export market and the third largest economy in the world.