Malaysia-US FTA negotiations hit turbulence

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It looks like the FTA negotiations between the United States and Malaysia – now in a crucial phase – are not going to be easy to conclude. For one thing, there is the whole issue of government procurement and how an FTA would affect the NEP policy of affirmative action. More crucially, an FTA would take away economic sovereignty from Malaysia, allowing Big Business from the United States to gain power and influence over the Malaysia government. Not good.

It would also lead to a quickening in the pace of the neo-liberalisation of the Malaysian economy, thus aggravating the already huge divide between the rich and the poor in the country.

Because I was concerned about the impact an FTA would have on Malaysia, I wrote this piece for Aliran Monthly:

The problem is while the Americans are going around and putting their “spin” on how Malaysia stands to “benefit” from this FTA (as if the US is doing us a big favour, when we know they are eyeing our financial services sector and government procurement), the Malaysian government has been largely silent. There has been no popular input or consultation with say, the rice farmers in Kedah, who are really worried about agriculture imports. Neither has there been much media coverage, public consultation or parliamentary scrutiny of the impact the FTA is likely to have on Malaysia.

When an American speaker from a US think-tank was asked by a Malaysian activist about the lack of transparency in the FTA negotiations, he retorted, “You are asking the wrong person. You should ask your own government.”

So let’s ask again, where is the transparency? Full article

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