There were signs of progress in the eighth round of negotiations. In a statement to the press after the talks, MITI said the two nations are “exploring opportunities for trade cooperation and capacity building in the services sector within the framework of Malaysia and the United States. Free trade agreements. 32 Assistant USTR Weisel said that the United States hoped that Malaysia`s proposed reforms of its government procurement process may help advance FTA negotiations on the issue.33 U.S. hopes received some encouragement in October 2008 when Minister Muhyiddin announced that Malaysia`s cabinet had indicated its willingness to move government procurement from the list of “no talk” issues to one where non-binding discussions would be allowed in 2006 , Rob Portman, then U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), announced and informed Congress of the government`s intention to negotiate a free trade agreement with Malaysia. 1 At the time, USTR Portman stated that it believed that negotiations could be concluded “within one year.” 2 For more information on the trade promotion authority, see the report CRS RL33743, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): Issues, Options, and Prospects for Renewal, by [author name scrubbed] and [author name scrubbed]. The proposed free trade agreement between the United States and Malaysia is of interest to Congress because (1) it must be approved by Congress; (2) continue the current trend of trade liberalization and increased globalization; (3) it may contain controversial provisions; and (4) could affect trade flows of certain sensitive products and industries in the United States. Malaysia has a growing automotive industry. For many years, the Malaysian government has encouraged the development of a local automotive industry as a sign of its birth as a modern industrialized nation. Its automakers such as Proton and Perodua market their vehicles in more than 40 countries around the world, and motorcycle manufacturer Modenas is a popular brand in Argentina, Greece, Iran, Singapore, Malta, Mauritius, Turkey and Vietnam. The Malaysian automotive and components industry has also enjoyed great success in the global market.
In Asia, Malaysia has already concluded free trade agreements with Japan and Singapore and is negotiating free trade agreements with Australia, India, New Zealand and Pakistan. Meanwhile, China has signed a free trade agreement with ASEAN, which includes Malaysia, which includes a trade in services agreement, which came into force in July 2007. The proposed free trade agreement with the United States would place U.S. exporters on a similar basis to exporters from China, Japan and Singapore – Malaysia`s other major trading partners. According to the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA), U.S. companies obtained approval for 33 manufacturing projects valued at $878 million in 2007 and 19 projects worth $1.8 billion in the first ten months of 2008. MIDA reported that most U.S. investment in the electronics and chemical industries has been realized, reflecting continued attention from U.S. investors in both sectors. There was also organized opposition to a free trade agreement between Malaysians in the United States. On 11 January 2007, an anti-FTA campaign in northern Malaysia led to petitions, in which more than 20,000 farmers and fishermen were transferred to Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah and the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry. In October 2006, a coalition of opposition, worker and small business parties in Malaysia called for a halt to negotiations with the United States until a study on the economic and social impact of the proposed free trade agreement was conducted in Malaysia.90 Malaysia is not a signatory to the WTO Agreement on Public Procurement B.