MALAYSIA’S request for a yen loan received encouragement from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who said the loan would be a “possibility”, pending a joint study in transportation, education and human resource development.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is here with the intent to raise yen credit for Malaysia, thanked Abe and said that his counterpart has given an assurance that Japan would help in solving the country’s financial problems in future when needed.
Speaking at a joint press conference after their bilateral meeting yesterday, Abe said for a start, Japan would send a team of experts from the country’s railway companies at the end of this month as part of the study.
“The comprehensive study will be done with a view to improving passenger and cargo transportation. I hope this study will lead to concrete cooperation in the future,” he said.
In June, Malaysia asked for a yen loan during Dr Mahathir’s first meeting with Abe to help resolve the government’s debts.
When tabling Budget 2019 on Nov 2, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng revealed that the Japanese government offered to guarantee up to ¥200bil (RM7.3bil) for the issuance of 10-year Samurai bonds via the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) at an indicative coupon rate of 0.65%, to be issued before March next year.
But it is understood Malaysia was still looking for a soft loan from Japan and hoping for a positive response during yesterday’s talk.
Referring to the Samurai bonds, Abe confirmed that Japan would aim for the issuance with a JBIC guarantee.
Abe said Japan would consider Dr Mahathir’s request for Japanese universities to set up branch campuses in Malaysia and consultations would begin to realise the idea.
The Japanese prime minister also said that the meeting raised free trade deals both countries were involved in – the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
“Japan will continue to collaborate with Malaysia for the promotion of free trade, including through CPTPP and RCEP,” Abe said.
Malaysia has yet to ratify the CPTPP despite six other countries in the free trade agreement having done so.
Japan took the lead to wrap up the FTA after the United States withdrew from what was called the TPP then.
Australia became the sixth country to ratify the CPTPP recently, paving the way for the FTA to kick off from Dec 30.
There have been some concerns among partner countries within CPTPP that Malaysia has yet to ratify it.
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