Malaysia willing to enter 13-nation economic partnership

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad says that his is open to working towards the RCEP but warns that a mindset change will be required for nations that once competed to work together. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, June 24, 2019.

MALAYSIA is willing to sign up to the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) without India “for the time being”, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said in a CNBC interview with Tanvir Gill today.

He said the RCEP participants would have to consider which framework worked best: the new proposed 13-nation deal or the original agreement involving 16 countries.

“We have to figure out which figure is the best, but I would prefer 13, for the time being,” he said, suggesting he was open to having India, Australia and New Zealand joining the pact in the future.

The RCEP is a proposed free trade agreement between 10 Asean member countries and six Asia Pacific nations: Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.

Dr Mahathir was optimistic that the RCEP would be concluded but the countries had to take into consideration the abilities of each partner to benefit from their respective arrangement.

“We will work towards a solution but it is difficult because we are competing economies,” he said.

“All of us are in the same field and competing with each other, and from there to working together requires a radical mindset change, which would take time,” he said.

A 16-nation RCEP has a combined population of 3.4 billion with the gross domestic product (GDP) valued at US$49.5 trillion (RM205 trillion) or 39% of the global GDP.

The free trade agreement was officially launched during the 2012 Asean Summit in Cambodia. – Bernama, June 24, 2019.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.