U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman announced Wednesday the Administration's intent to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement with Malaysia. Portman made the announcement on Capitol Hill and was joined by Malaysia's Minister of Trade Rafidah Aziz and a bipartisan group of leaders in Congress.
The negotiations will begin after the expiration of a 90-day consultation period with the U.S. Congress.
Portman says Malaysia is already our tenth largest trading partner, with $44 billion in two-way trade in 2005.
Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns praised the announcement, explaining that Malaysia is our fourth largest agricultural market in Southeast Asia. It purchased $390 million fresh and processed fruit and vegetables, wheat, soybeans and other products last year. "A free trade agreement will generate additional export opportunities for our farmers and ranchers, strengthen our economic ties, encourage development and improve access to Malaysian consumers seeking high quality U.S. products," Johanns says.
"This FTA would be the third we are negotiating in the economically vibrant and strategically important Southeast Asia region and will advance the President's Enterprise for ASEAN Initiative," says Ambassador Portman.