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Japan keen to boost services presence in Malaysia [21-08-2013]  
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Japan, one of the longest bilateral trading partners of Malaysia, wants to expand its presence in Malaysia’s services sector via the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“They are keen to increase their presence in the retail sector and spoke about market opening measures,” said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed on the sidelines of a bilateral meeting with Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi in Brunei yesterday.

Discussions touched on exchanging offers and equity condition on hypermarkets in Malaysia and Mustapa also explained about the country’s 30 per cent Bumiputera equity policy.

Japanese retail giant AEON Co (M) Bhd, which recently bought Carrefour’s Malaysia unit making it the largest department storecum-supermarket, is one of the main players keen to expand its footprint in Malaysia. The group currently operates 26 malls here.

Other areas of discussions were on the steel industry and hot-rolled coil.

In July, leaders of both countries witnessed a memorandum of understanding between 1Malaysia Development Bhd and Toshiba Corp
to explore the introduction of Toshiba’s carbon ion radiotherapy system in Malaysia.

Mustapa and Motegi also spoke about the high quality Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement, which
is aimed at broadening and strengthening the existing Asean Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Asean members and dialogue partners.

The RCEP includes the 10 Asean nations plus dialogue partners — China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.

Mustapa expects Malaysia’s trade with the rest of the RCEP grouping to double by 2020 from RM726.69 billion in 2012.

In 2012, Malaysia’s global trade totalled RM1.31 trillion.

“Fifty-five per cent of our trade is with all the members of the RCEP, but once the agreement is in place, trade facilitation and the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers will lend a boost.”

Malaysia, as a member of the Asean Plus 1 FTAs, is already implementing various commitments through liberalisation of import tariffs, services and investment.

The RCEP is seen as the next step that will allow the business community to benefit from the harmonisation and streamlining of different rules and regulations under various Asean individual FTAs.

"It is, however, not a bloc aimed at competing with the ongoing negotiations under the TPP," he added.

Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam are involved in both the TPP and RCEP negotiations.

Asean's global competitiveness will also surge with the Asean Economic Community in 2015 and linkages with major trading nations via the RCEP.

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