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Envoy calls for free trade pact between Taiwan and Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR--The Republic of China representative to Malaysia said Monday that he was gratified by the stable development of relations between Taiwan and Malaysia and called on the Malaysian government to consider signing an economic cooperation agreement with Taiwan.

At a year-end banquet, Lo Yu-chung, head of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, said that relations between the two countries have been stable generally, despite some challenges.

He mentioned in particular an incident in which a Taiwanese tourist was kidnapped and her husband was killed by gunmen based in the Philippines on a resort island in the East Malaysian state of Sabah in November.

Although the woman has since been released and has returned safely to Taiwan, there are still some problems to be resolved in the aftermath of the incident, Lo said.

He suggested Malaysia and Taiwan sign a legal assistance agreement to jointly fight international terrorism and violence.

Furthermore, Lo said, he hopes the Malaysian government will soon agree to start negotiations on a trade partnership pact with Taiwan.

In the first 11 months this year, two-way trade between Taiwan and Malaysia grew 13 percent from a year ago, amounting to US$15 billion, according to Lo.

So far, Taiwan has invested a total US$11.6 billion in Malaysia, making Taiwan its fourth largest investment partner, he noted.

However, the market share of Taiwanese products in Malaysia has dropped slightly because of regional free trade agreements, Lo said.

FTAs are signed within the framework of the World Trade Organization, he said, noting that Taiwan and Singapore signed an economic partnership agreement earlier this year.

Taiwan and Malaysia signed an investment protection pact in 1993 but it needs to be reviewed, since its contents are no longer current, Lo said.

He said that in the absence of an FTA between the two countries, Taiwan's Kuokuang Petrochemical Technology Co. was forced to abandon its plans for an integrated refining and petrochemical complex in Johor, Malaysia. Without an FTA, Taiwanese businesses in Malaysia are subject to a tariff of at least 10 percent on their imports, Lo said.

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 Manufacturing sector sluggish, flashes yellow-blue in November 
Lo Yo-chung (羅由中), the leading diplomatic representative at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Malaysia, gives a year-end address in Kuala Lumpur, yesterday. In his address Lo urged the Malaysian government to consider entering regional free trade accords with Taiwan.

(CNA)

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