Malaysia, India sign free trade pact

KUALA LUMPUR, February 18, 2011 (AFP) – Malaysia and India signed a long-delayed free trade pact on Friday that they say will double two-way trade to $15 billion by 2015 and help strengthen economic ties. “The signing of today’s agreement shows our commitment to much deeper economic integration between our two countries,” premier Najib Razak said following the signing by the countries’ trade ministers.

The Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement covers trade in goods and services, investment and economic cooperation and will come into effect on July 1 this year, according to a joint statement.

“The agreement that we have is an ambitious one… and this will help us in achieving the modest total trade target of $15 billion by 2015,” Malaysian trade minister Mustapa Mohamed said.

“I feel it is doable and it may happen sooner than that.”

Negotiations on the pact began in February 2008 but were put on hold after two rounds of talks, before resuming at the start of 2010.

“This is a major step both countries have taken which will have a defining influence in this region and help towards the larger economic integration of Asia, which is essential given the global realities,”