RCEP for better access to invest abroad

THE proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would create better access for companies to invest abroad, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

“In the first quarter of this year, Malaysian companies had invested some RM550bil abroad, which is a huge sum.

“With the RCEP, there will be better uniformity in regulations, which will create opportunities and access for companies to invest abroad,” he said when answering a question raised by Datuk Rozman Isli (BN-Labuan) in Dewan Rakyat.

He noted that Malaysia remained committed towards the RCEP, as the 16-nation trade grouping will result in an integrated regional market comprising a third of global trade output.

“There has been 19 officers and seven ministerial meetings among the negotiating nations. Two more meetings are scheduled this year, when it is hoped that a conclusion would be reached,” he added.

He said negotiations for the RCEP had been ongoing since 2013, and were tedious owing to “different levels of ambitions” among the nations.

To a question by Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong) on what would happen to the RCEP if one of the nations pulled out, Mustapa said this was unlikely.

The 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) was scuttled after five years of negotiations when the US pulled out of the pact earlier this year.

Asean is the main driver behind the RCEP, which also includes Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Negotiations centred on lifting tariffs and liberalising trade and services, including economic and technical cooperation.

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