US says Malaysia trade deal improbable by deadline
WASHINGTON: The United States does not expect to finish free trade talks with Malaysia by a legal deadline at the end of this month but has not given up on the deal, a U.S. trade official said on Friday.
It was “improbable” that a pact could be reached in the next several weeks, said Stephen Norton, a spokesman for the US Trade Representative’s office. “We continue to believe that reaching a comprehensive, high-quality FTA (free trade agreement) would benefit both of our countries,” he said. The talks, which have bogged down over US demands for more access to Malaysia’s government procurement market and other issues, are running into a deadline under the White House’s trade promotion authority.
That legislation, which requires the US Congress to vote “yes” or “no” on trade deals negotiated by the White House without making any changes, expires at the end of June. It also requires the White House to give Congress 90 days’ notice before signing any agreement, making early April the effective deadline for the United States to strike a deal with Malaysia under current authority.
The Bush administration is seeking renewal of the trade promotion authority so it is possible the United States and Malaysia could continue talking after March in the hopes that Congress will approve the legislation, Norton said. US trade officials also conceded on Friday they would not reach a free trade deal with the United Arab Emirates by the end of the month. reuters