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M’sia-S’pore bilateral disputes not seen affecting Asean integration
Published on: Wednesday, April 03, 2019

SINGAPORE: The on-going bilateral disputes between Malaysia and Singapore, the two main economies within Asean, will not slow down the overall integration of the grouping, said Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid.

The CIMB Asean Research Institute (Cari) Chairman said this was because the overall relations between Malaysia and its southern neighbour Singapore itself were not affected by the current differences.

“When you are negotiating in good faith with mutual respect, you will discover mutual interest,” he told Bernama at the end of the Asean Roundtable Series here on Tuesday.

Cari and Asean Business Club, in partnership with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), hosted the Asean Roundtable Series themed “Future of Asean Trade: Tackling Non-Tariff Barriers in the New Trade Order” here.

“There are issues that need to be resolved but it does not mean your entire relationship is affected,” said Mohd Munir, who is also chairman of the Asean Business Advisory Council.

He lauded Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s latest assurance during the Invest Malaysia 2019 conference last month that Singapore would always remain as Malaysia’s key trade partner, despite some differences in views.

Malaysia and Singapore are currently in the midst of resolving maritime and airspace-related issues.

Both Dr Mahathir and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong will be meeting in Putrajaya next week for the 9th Leaders’ Retreat.

Meanwhile, during the Asean Roundtable Series, Munir cautioned against over-reliance on prospects.

“Asean must understand that future prospects are not current reality.

“Projected numbers, such as the size of the combined economy, the young and huge market, and the boost in – and the use of – new technologies, will start to run thin, if the Asean economy is not really one, if it continues to have cross-border impediments of all sorts, of which Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) and Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) are the most pervasive,” he said.

According to data presented by EU-Asean Business Council Executive Director Chris Humphrey, the number of NTMs in Asean is currently close to 6,000.

The event was also attended by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Secretariat Executive Director, Tan Sri Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria and RSIS Executive Deputy Chairman Ong Keng Yong. – Bernama



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