Malaysia committed to further liberelizing trade with Asean

April 12, 2009 7:59 am 

KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — Malaysia is committed to further liberalizing trade with Asean countries by lowering import tax on goods and services, according to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI).

To date, 80 percent of Malaysian commitment on Asean tax reduction has been implemented, while by January 1, 2010, the remaining 20 percent is scheduled to be realized, a senior MITI official said in her presentation at a seminar on Enhancing Asean's Cooperation in Facing Financial Crisis here today.

The Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Of Kuala Lumpur and Selangor organized the seminar which was officiated by Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan.

Jacob said there are opportunities for expansion in intra Asean trade which is currently around US0 billion.

"In time of crisis, it is imperative that no protectionist measures are adopted so that Asean members can depend on expanding their intra Asean trade and help in overcoming the crisis," he added.

The minister said Malaysia's total exports to Asean countries by product sector for 2008 increased by 10.1 percent to RM171.2 billion from RM155.56 billion in 2007.

It is understood that import tax on 2,298 goods will be further reduced by January 1, 2010. However, import duties on rice, tropical fruits and alcoholic beverages and tobacco will remain unchanged.

Malaysia's exports especially to the United States, Europe and Japan markets have been on the decline in the last five months. Therefore, the tax lowering within Asean region is crucial to promote sustainable regional economic growth.

Also present at the event was the chamber president, Tan Sri William Cheng Heng Jem.

He suggested the use of regional currencies to conduct business instead of the current international practice using U.S. dollar.

"When we sell goods to China, we must change to U.S. dollar, and then convert it to Renminbi. We end up bearing, exposing ourselves to the fluctuation risks of the U.S. dollar," he said. (PNA/Bernama)

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