KUALA LUMPUR, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- Malaysia would focus on regional economic integration and the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could not materialize following the withdrawal of the United States, officials said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Najib Razak said Malaysian economy would remain strong despite TPP does not come into effect.
The country would push for the economic integration among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the timely conclusion of the RCEP which groups ASEAN and its six major trading partners including China, said International and Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed.
Malaysia will also pursue bilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) including with TPP members whom it currently does not have any preferential trading arrangement, Mustapa said in a statement.
In regard to the argument by newly inaugurated U.S. President Donald Trump that TPP would cause job losses in the U.S. and outflow of funds, Mustapa insisted that the trade pact was a balanced agreement as U.S. will also benefit from better market access to countries which it does not have FTA with such as Japan, Vietnam and Malaysia.
He said the chief negotiators from other 11 TPP countries will be in constant communication with each other to consider all available options before deciding the best way forward, without elaborating on whether Malaysia would pursue a TPP without the United States.
Prime Minister Najib said the 11 remaining TPP countries will hold meeting to discuss the future directions and the way forward.
In an article published on his blog on Tuesday, Najib said Malaysia could still tap into the opportunities provided by its ties with existing trading partners and with other ASEAN members, mentioning its strong bilateral ties with countries like China and Japan.
"We expect the bilateral trade volume between Malaysia and China to exceed 100 billion U.S. dollars," he said.