KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s effort to improve its compliance with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and maintain an open and transparent trading environment is bearing fruits as the number of questions raised at the Eighth Trade Policy Review (8th TPR) in Geneva, Switzerland reduced substantially.
The Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) secretary-general Datuk Seri Isham Ishak (pix), who led the Malaysian delegation to the meeting, said Malaysia received a total of 367 questions from 28 WTO Members with a majority number of questions from the United States, India, Australia, the European Union and Asean member states.
“For record, the number of advanced written questions received by Malaysia for the 8th TPR reduced from 476 received in 2018 that reflect Malaysia’s efforts to improve its compliance to the WTO and maintain an open and transparent trading environment,” he said in a statement from Geneva shared with Bernama.
The 8th TPR of Malaysia was held on Feb 8 and Feb 10, 2023, involving ministries and agencies such as MITI, Ministry of Finance; Ministry of Plantation and Commodities; Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security; Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change; Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living; Bank Negara Malaysia; Royal Malaysian Customs Department; and Malaysia Palm Oil Board.
Isham said these questions have covered a number of areas such as trade openness, intellectual property rights, food security, halal certification, financial services, sustainable development, e-commerce, SME development, free trade agreements, standards as well issues related to trade and gender.
“Malaysia is committed to uphold rule-based multilateral trading system as well as to implement economic reforms and good practices in the areas of trade, investment and environmental sustainability,” he said.
He said 37 WTO members made intervention by raising questions and providing positive comments on Malaysia’s trade and investment policies during the two-day TPR exercise.
“Most of the members have commended Malaysia on its economic performance despite challenges posed by the pandemic as well as Malaysia’s continued efforts to improve its domestic legislation to meet the international standards, especially in the areas of intellectual property and labour rights,” he said.
Isham said most of the members also commended Malaysia’s productive contributions to regional trade agreements such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
He said the members observed these developments as a building block for progressive multilateral trade liberalisation.
“Malaysia was applauded for her active participation in the WTO discussions, such as Joint Statement Initiatives on Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) and e-Commerce, the Cairns Group and WTO Reform meetings,” he said.
Currently, the Permanent Mission of Malaysia in Geneva is led by Ambassador Syahril Syazli Ghazali.
TPR is an exercise mandated in the WTO agreements as part of the transparency obligation, where the WTO Members’ trade and trade-related policies and measures are examined and evaluated. – Bernama