PETALING JAYA - Malaysians should not fear trade pacts the Government has or plans to enter into, says International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.
He said trade was an important element of the Malaysian economy, as the country was the fourth most trade-dependent nation in the world.
"Closer economic integration is good for us. It brings in more opportunities and investments, which, in turn, mean more jobs," Mustapa said during a visit to Menara Star yesterday.
Mustapa was commenting on fears and resistance by some quarters that pacts like the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) would put locals at the losing end.
"For instance, there is fear that the people in general will be deprived of jobs once the AEC kicks in next year and property prices will go up following the TPPA. These fears are unfounded."
He added that the International Trade and Industry Ministry (Miti) had embarked on initiatives to engage Malaysians on these issues, given that the AEC was slated to be implemented as early as next year.
The AEC is ASEAN's target to achieve a single economic market by end-2015, and allows free movement of skilled labour within ASEAN member countries.
The TPPA, meanwhile, is a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) involving 12 countries, including the United States, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Canada, Australia, Japan, Peru, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico and Brunei that has been ongoing for the past five years.
"There have been a lot of cross-border investments within ASEAN countries by some of our biggest corporations. For instance, the Genting group has a presence in Singapore and Indonesia, while the YTL group, which has a presence in Singapore, is looking to venture into Indonesia. We want more of this."