Parliament: M'sia to ratify RCEP treaty by this year, says Azmin

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia aims to ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the end of this year, says International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali (pic).

"We have given our commitment to complete the ratification process by mid-December of this year," he told Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (GPS-Bintulu) in the Dewan Rakyat on Tuesday (Sept 21).

Azmin noted that time was needed to complete the process as the government must make amendments to the Patent Act, Trademark Act and Copyright Act for the move.

He said that the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry is currently working with the Attorney General's Chambers to finalise the amendments for them to be tabled in Parliment by December.

The Senior Minister said that the RCEP will only come into force 60 days after at least six Asean members and three countries under the Friend of Asean's free trade agreement have submitted their instruments of ratification to the Asean secretariat.

He said that out of the 15 nations that signed the RCEP in November last year, only China, Japan and Singapore have ratified the agreement so far.

He said that Myanmar has sent its instrument of ratification to the Asean secretariat while Thailand will submit theirs by the end of this year.

"If Malaysia is late in ratifying the agreement, our country will lose out on the benefits and preferential treatment contained in the RCEP," Azmin said.

Among the benefits of the agreement, he said, were the lowering of tariffs, access to trade services, movement of professionals and the highly-skilled, including increased trade among countries under the RCEP.

To a question by Dr Azman Ismail (PH-Kuala Kedah) on Asean's stand on Myanmar, Azmin said Asean leaders are monitoring the situation closely.

He noted that although Myanmar had submitted their instrument of ratification to the Asean secretariat, the matter has yet to be decided by leaders of the Asean nations.

He added that several Asean leaders have since voiced their strong stand against the political situation in Myanmar.

Dr Azman wanted to know if Asean leaders would be prevented from voicing their stand against Myanmar owing to the country being part of RCEP.

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