THE United States and Malaysia are expected to sign the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) early next year, according to the US embassy’s counsellor for economic affairs, Robin McClellan.
“We are hoping that International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz will visit the US in December and I am hoping to get the agreement signed,” she said. “But her trip has been postponed.”
McClellan said the agreement was close to being concluded.
“Among the issues that may be in the work plan include promotion of bilateral trade, intellectual property rights protection, biotechnology, tourism, building capacity and public/private sector partnerships,” she said.
On another note, McClellan said, the US hoped Malaysia would open its financial services sector to make it more competitive.
“My concern is that Malaysia is quite defensive about opening doors in the financial services sector,” she said after presenting a paper on The US initiatives with Malaysia and Asean at the Asean business seminar in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The event was organised by the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
McClellan also said Malaysia had a lot of expertise it could market in the US and one of them was in the area of Islamic banking.
She added that the private sector should perhaps seek the help of the International Trade and Industry Ministry on how to promote and market its Islamic banking products in the US.
Asked on trade relations between the two countries, McClellan said they had been pretty good.
“We don’t have any big problem area. The most contentious issue is only copyrights protection, which is an issue with a lot of countries,” she said.
Earlier in her presentation, McClellan said US companies’ role as investors was the key to Malaysia’s economic transformation.
Currently, US investment in Malaysia is worth over US$20bil (RM76bil). – Bernama
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