Prime Minister of New Zealand Bill English (Source: AFP/VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Malaysia will focus on regional economic integration and the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement could not materialise following the withdrawal of the US, local officials said on January 24.

Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed said Malaysia will promote economic integration with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and promptly conclude the RCEP, which groups ASEAN and its six major trading partners, including China.

Malaysia will also pursue bilateral free trade agreements with TPP members with whom it currently does not have any preferential trading arrangements, he said, adding that chief negotiators from other 11 TPP countries will hold regular contact with each other to consider all available options before deciding the best way forward.

However, the minister did not elaborate on whether Malaysia would pursue a TPP without the US. 

In regard to the argument by newly inaugurated US President Donald Trump that TPP would cause job losses in the US, Mustapa insisted that the trade pact was a balanced agreement as the US will also benefit from better market access to countries which it does not have FTA with such as Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.

The same day, Prime Minister of New Zealand Bill English told reporters in Wellington that the withdrawal of the US from the TPP was not surprising, but still disappointing after the nations managed to negotiate the pact.
He revealed that the remaining 11 members are scheduled to meet with each other in the months to come to consider the next possible steps./.