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Monday, February 28, 2011

‘Don’t sign FTA with EU’

A coalition of NGOs are calling for a halt to Malaysia-EU negotiations on trade.

IPOH: Some 33 non-governmental organisations comprising student and political bodies are against the government signing the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU).

Calling themselves Gabungan Rakyat Membantah FTA (GRMFTA), they want the government to immediately halt talks with the EU delegation who are in Kuala Lumpur today.

The movement, according to spokesperson Y Kohila, also wants the Malaysian government to make public, studies done on the impact of such FTA agreements.

GRMFTA, she said, believes that the country would suffer economic devastation if it went ahead with the agreements and has called instead for an open dialogue on crucial issues of national interest which are listed in their memorandum to the federal government.

Kohila said under the FTA, the EU stands to gain financially and economically in all aspects at the expense of Malaysia.

She claimed Malaysia will eventually face the prospects of economic doom.

She cited, as an example, Latin American countries which had signed the FTA with US and which were now facing the harsh realities of an economic collapse.

She said most trading commodities are heavily subsidised by the US and the EU, hence Malaysian business communities can never compete with them on par.

She said based on their past FTAs, the EU FTAs would exacerbate the existing economic crises and prevent Malaysia from implementing the measures recommended to prevent such crises recurring.

The Malaysia-EU FTA is expected to help open Malaysia’s economy and economic opportunities to foreign companies, including for government procurement.

She said GRMFTA list of concerns includes the FTA’s impact on Malaysian farmers and food security and the country’s ability to move up the value chain.

They are also concerned about the FTA’s impact on health services and on environmental, social, financial and other regulations.

She said some 500 supporters are aiming to hand over the GRMFTA memorandum detailing their concerns to International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed and the EU delegation. - FMT

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