Long Paused EU-Malaysia FTA Set To Be Revisited

Malaysia has finally agreed to rekindle discussion on EU-FTA after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who is in Germany said it is about time for Malaysia and the European Union strengthen bilateral relations and regional integration further.

“The time is ripe for us to rekindle discussions on the Malaysia-EU Free Trade Agreement. We will facilitate an FTA,” he said, as with an FTA, Europe will be able to capitalise on Malaysia as a gateway to Asia.

Europe can leverage open market policies facilitated by the Asean FTA, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, Anwar said in his ceremonial address at the 101st Ostasiatisches Liebesmahl at the Hamburg City Hall yesterday.

Malaysia is currently conducting a scoping exercise with the EU to determine the gap in the positions and stances of both Putrajaya and the bloc for the FTA, which was postponed since 2012.

The Prime Minister said Malaysia is not just open to business but also ready to cooperate, innovate, and partner in high-quality ventures that align with national goals and global responsibilities.

Anwar took the opportunity to speak on the Madani Economy framework which embodies the commitment to propel Malaysia towards becoming a leading economy in Asia, as well as driving sustainable and inclusive development.

The framework envisions a society where prosperity is shared, advocating for greater Asean integration and economic complexity and establishing Malaysia as a regional powerhouse.

“Underpinning this is the New Industrial Master Plan 2030, which aims to reinvigorate Malaysia’s industrial landscape, focusing on adding value, advanced manufacturing, and high-impact investments,” he said.

On the other hand, the National Energy Transition Roadmap embodies a forward-looking stance on environmental stewardship, outlining a comprehensive strategy to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

On the geopolitical side, Anwar said: “It bears stressing that our principled position of non-alignment stands us in good stead to conduct trade and commerce with the East and the West.”

Besides strong ties with Germany and Europe, Malaysia has also forged ties with China, Japan, South Korea, India, and Australia.

“While detractors have conjured a ghost of past rivalries and are now even raising the spectre of imminent war, I do not subscribe to that line of thought,” said the Prime Minister.

The main imperative for those in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia, remains to be development, trade, and growth, as Putrajaya’s strategy is being proactive and anticipatory rather than reactive and unprepared.

“This strengthens our resilience against geopolitical fluctuations, allowing Malaysia to be the sixth largest semiconductor exporter in the world. It also allows Malaysia to export its energy without undue geopolitical concerns.

“Sarawak is an important state; we export energy to the new Indonesian capital, Nusantara, as well as through an undersea cable to Singapore and another undersea cable to the Peninsula.

“Hence, Malaysia is ready to support Germany’s energy transition through natural gas as a transitional fuel. This will balance Germany’s immediate energy security needs with long-term sustainability goals,” he said.

Anwar arrived in Berlin on March 10 for a six-day official visit to the world’s third-largest economy.

Germany has been Malaysia’s largest trading partner among European Union member countries since 2000, while Malaysia is the largest trading partner for Germany among Asean member states.

In 2023, Malaysia’s total trade with Germany increased by 5.9 per cent to RM63.45 billion (US$13.90 billion) compared to RM59.87 billion (US$13.62 billion) in 2022.

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