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Strong commitment to finalise RCEP despite pending chapters

BANGKOK, Oct 12 — All 10 member states of Asean and its six dialogue partners have reaffirmed their commitment towards finalising the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) even though there are still six outstanding chapters. As the…


US helps Mastercard, Visa score victory in Indonesia in global lobbying effort

JAKARTA, Oct 4 — US trade officials, at the request of card networks Mastercard and Visa, convinced Indonesia late last year to loosen rules governing its new domestic payment network, according to Indonesian government and industry sources, and…


Unregulated firm Financial.org closes, investors say accounts frozen

LONDON, Sept 6 — Unregulated British firm Financial.org has closed down, according to a notice on its website, and four investors said their accounts had been frozen. Reuters reported in January 2018 that the company, a former sponsor of motor…


M’sia pins hope for RCEP deal success with good progress made

BANGKOK: Malaysia sees a positive progress towards concluding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest trade pact, by year-end even though there are still some outstanding issues that needed to be resolved.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking (pix) said the 27th round of the RCEP negotiations in China last month made a good progress where a lot of issues were ironed out.

“We still have some outstanding issues. Instructions to the trade negotiators are to complete and settle the issues by the next meeting in Da Nang, Vietnam from Sept 19 to 27.

“All countries involve (in the negotiations) will look at a bigger picture for the future direction of the 3.4 billion market economy that we have,” he told Bernama here.

Darell and his counterparts from ASEAN member countries and its six dialogue partners gathered here on Sunday for the 7th RCEP Ministerial Meeting to review developments in the RCEP negotiations since the ministers last met in China on Aug 2-3.

The RCEP is a multilateral trade agreement between the 10 member states of ASEAN — Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam — and its six FTA partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.

A source close to Malaysia’s trade negotiator said the marathon-like RCEP talks in Zhengzhou, China last month made a good progress as it solved a number of issues, including to ease Investor-State Dispute Settlement clauses on Business Standard.

“The negotiations progressed better than the past seven years,” the source said.

As pressures mount to conclude the deal this year, Darell assured that Malaysia’s interest and sovereignty are the top priority in concluding the agreement.

“When we create a new economic bloc, we have to listen to the people and our interest… We have to make sure we avoid all the pitfalls,” he said.

Citing an example, he said the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was signed before Pakatan Harapan (PH) took over the government in May last year, does not fit it into the current policy.

Darell disclosed that some of the chapters and clauses closed before the change of government could never be reopened.

“Unfortunately, good or bad, we have to accept those chapters as they were negotiated before the PH government took over. However, we will use our policy on the outstanding chapters. We will not compromise the sovereignty of the country to conclude the trade deal,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a joint statement after the 7th RCEP Ministerial Meeting yesterday, the ministers reaffirmed their collective resolve to bring negotiations to a conclusion.

“The ministers are committed to avail negotiators with the necessary resources and mandate to bring negotiations to a close. The ministers made the collective call to negotiators at all levels to translate this commitment into constructive actions and positive outcomes,” it said.

The ministers also recognised that the negotiations have reached a critical milestone as the deadline for their conclusion draws near.

Notwithstanding the remaining challenges in the negotiations, RCEP participating countries are working on addressing outstanding issues that are fundamental to conclude the agreement this year as mandated by the leaders.

“Ministers agreed that participating countries should not lose the long-term vision of deepening and expanding the values chains in the RCEP.

“The Ministers underscored that, successfully concluded, the RCEP will provide the much-needed stability and certainty to the market, which will in turn boost trade and investment in the region.

The RCEP negotiations were launched during the 21st ASEAN Summit in November 2012 in Phnom Penh.

The trade pact comprises a population of 3.4 billion with a total gross domestic product (GDP) of US$49.5 trillion, or about 39 per cent of the world’s GDP.

The deal is likely to be signed next year if the negotiations could be finalised in the meeting in November in Bangkok.

It was reported that about 80 per cent of the agreement is completed with negotiations on content in financial, telecommunication and professional services.

After seven years, the trade deal remains unsigned. India is widely viewed as the biggest barrier in concluding the RCEP as New Delhi allegedly opposed opening its markets to tariff-free goods and services.

However, New Delhi is hesitant about opting out of the RCEP pact.


Malaysia pins hope for RCEP deal success with good progress made

BANGKOK, Sept 9 — Malaysia sees a positive progress towards concluding the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the world’s largest trade pact, by year-end even though there are still some outstanding issues that needed to be…


Asean committed to narrowing development gap

BANGKOK, Sept 8 — Asean member countries have reaffirmed their commitment to narrow the development gap within the economic bloc in the pursuit of shared prosperity and an inclusive economic community. In a joint statement in conjunction with the…


Bursa Malaysia closes firmer on buying interest in selected heavyweights

KUALA LUMPUR: Bursa Malaysia closed firmer today on buying interest in selected heavyweights and amid positive developments in US-China trade tensions.

The benchmark FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI (FBM KLCI) strengthened 5.36 points to 1,595.18 after trading between 1,584.83 and 1,597.39.

The market barometer opened 3.54 points higher at 1,593.63.

A dealer said the FBM KLCI reversed losses in the morning session to end higher on fresh comments from China that Beijing and Washington were in discussions and would try to resolve the year-long trade dispute between both economies.

“The new development also helped improve sentiment in the region which saw most market rebound,” he said.

Within Southeast Asia, the benchmark indices in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos and the Philippines all recorded gains with the exception of Vietnam.

On the local bourse, Maybank added four sen to RM8.57, TNB gained six sen to RM13.80 and IHH earned two sen to RM5.77.

Public Bank was flat at RM20.32, while Petronas Chemicals lost 13 sen to RM6.77.

As for actives, Vsolar and Opcom slipped half-a-sen each to 13.5 sen and 63 sen respectively.

Ekovest bagged 1.5 sen to 82.5 sen and MNC Wireless and Sapura gained half-a-sen each to eight sen and 27 sen respectively.

The FBM Emas Index improved 9.681 points to 11,223.15, the FBMT100 Index was 11.771 points higher at 11,062.12 and the FBM Emas Shariah Index increased 10.74 points to 11,778.53.

The FBM Ace eased 27.88 points to 4,510.39 and the FBM 70 fell 91 points to 13,739.91.

Sector-wise, the Financial Services Index edged up 17.74 points to 15,370.55 and the Plantation Index expanded 59.9 points to 6,817.79, while the Industrial Products and Services Index was 0.5 of-a-point lower at 146.86.

Market breadth was negative as losers outpaced gainers 451 to 338, with 401 counters unchanged, 401 untraded and 64 others suspended.

Turnover was higher at 1.99 billion units worth RM1.66 billion from Wednesday’s 1.93 billion units worth RM1.54 billion.

Main Market volume was flat at yesterday’s 1.14 billion, but value increased to RM1.47 billion from RM1.34 billion on Wednesday.

Warrants turnover rose to 557.23 million units worth RM123.82 million from yesterday’s 434.90 million units worth RM91.45 million.

Volume on the ACE Market contracted to 297.79 million shares valued at RM69.45 million from 356.73 million shares valued at RM104.18 million previously.

Consumer products and services accounted for 163.02 million shares traded on the Main Market, industrial products and services (165.57 million), construction (99.69 million), technology (102.97 million), SPAC (nil), financial services (40.86 million), property (120.21 million), plantations (14.18 million), REITs (11.22 million), closed/fund (21,000), energy (219.02 million), healthcare (13.28 million), telecommunications and media (150.33 million), transportation and logistics (19.41 million), and utilities (23.07 million).

The physical price of gold as at 5.00pm stood at RM201.91 per gramme, up 17 sen from RM201.74 at 5.00pm yesterday. — Bernama


Minister: Asean makes progress in implementing AEC Blueprint 2025

MELBOURNE, Aug 22 — Asean has made considerable progress in the implementation of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025, said Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Darell Leiking. He said economic integration is a dynamic…


Malaysia welcomes MAFTA review but priority given to RCEP conclusion

CANBERRA, Aug 20 – Malaysia welcomes the review of the Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA) but any effort to do so will only be considered after the negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) have been…


‘Do more to harness potential in tourism’

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has not done enough to tap the vast potential of tourism related business opportunities, according to ACCCIM’s Malaysia’s Business and Economic Conditions Survey.

This was concurred by 78.2% of respondents, while 81% also acknowledged that Malaysia’s tourism is lagging behind its neighbours.

Throughout 2001-2008, tourist arrivals in Malaysia had grown by 4.2% per annum to 25.8 million persons, which was lower compared with Cambodia (14.7% per annum), Vietnam (11.8%), Laos (11.3%), Phillippines (8.4%), Thailand (8.2%), Indonesia (6.8%) and Singapore (5.4%).

The survey found that simplified visa rules, the rollout of e-visas or visa-exemption are crucial to facilitate and ease the entry of travellers and tourists as indicated by 52.7% of respondents. Front-services counters at airports must also be enhanced.

The preferred tourism products indicated by respondents are eco-tourism (78%), followed by culinary tourism (73.4%), cultural tourism (55.6%), recreational tourism (49.5%), agro-tourism (48.8%) and medical tourism (37.7%).

It is proposed that Malaysia organise an annual mega food fiesta in major states, as well as nationwide food hunting tours to drive Malaysia as a food haven.

Niche markets such as medical tourism, education tourism as well as meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions industry should be promoted as these are high quality tourism products.

To improve the country’s competitiveness in recapturing higher contribution from tourism, 68.3% of respondents opined that the government should further enhance the effectiveness of tourism promotion, marketing and branding.

It also proposed that a short and simplified course for part-time tour guides be conducted to handle tourists from China as there is a lack of tour guides, particularly Chinese speaking.

Respondents also opined that the Budget 2020 should roll out more tourism-related measures and provide more allocations to support tourism-related activities and development, in facilitating preparations for Visit Malaysia Year 2020.