Malaysia not a trade cheat: Mustapa

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia does not “cheat” and is not involved in wrongdoing in international trade and will correct the allegations made by the US administration, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

“We are confident that our trade is fair, we are supporters of free and fair trade. We did not manipulate our currency, we did not provide any assistance that is against international laws including (that of) the World Trade Organization (WTO),” he told reporters on the sidelines of the “Malaysia-Britain, Partners in a post-Brexit World” panel discussion yesterday.

Mustapa said the difference in trade figures has been reviewed and Malaysia’s trade figures show that the surplus with the US is only about US$6 billion (RM26.5 billion), while the figure stated in a Trump administration report is much higher, US$25 billion.

“We are confident that our policies are in accordance with standard international policies, including WTO. We strongly deny being a ‘trade cheat’. We practise free and fair trade,” he added.

Mustapa said the government will definitely provide an explanation and the ministry is compiling facts to correct the US administration’s accusation.

Despite the accusation, Mustapa said, the US is an important trade partner for Malaysia and the government will continue to encourage good economic relations with the US, including investments by US companies in electrical and electronics, information technology, medical devices and aerospace.

“Despite the accusation, we appreciate our relationship with the US, who in terms of trade is the third biggest after China and Singapore,” he said.

Last week, the US President Donald Trump labelled 16 countries, including Malaysia, as “trade cheats”.

The Trump administration said it will pinpoint countries and goods responsible for the US$50 billion trade deficit that the US is facing. It also said that it will look for evidence of “cheating”, lax enforcement and currency misalignment, among other causes.

The other countries named were China, Japan, Germany, Mexico, Ireland, Vietnam, Italy, South Korea, India, Thailand, France, Switzerland, Taiwan, Indonesia and Canada.

Meanwhile, Mustapa said the ministry will ensure that all the memorandums of understanding (MoUs) signed with India are implemented.

The MoUs, which were signed during Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s visit to India, are valued at US$36 billion in total. These include the development of port and maritime city projects worth US$32 billion.